EAST BAY CITIZEN. EVERYWHERE SINCE 2009

Monday, March 21, 2011

With Projection Of Smaller Deficit, Cassidy's Cause Get Tougher

WILL UNIONS MAKE MORE CONCESSIONS WITH A $1.26 MILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL?
By Steven Tavares

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy will undoubtedly bring up his plan for pension reform for city employees during Monday’s State of the City address, but times have changed in just the few months since he took office. The main argument for convincing a skeptical city council of backing his proposal is rapidly disappearing for the good of the city, but not necessarily pension reform. His main obstacle? Things just aren’t as bad as they once were.

Back when Cassidy began his campaign for mayor, he preceded it with numerous appearances before the council ramming home the idea the city was near bankruptcy in large part of a growing obligation to city employee pensions and benefits. Back then the city’s finance director was forecasting a deficit over $7 million. Whether Cassidy won the election because of fears over the city’s budget is open for debate, although it was the main distinction in his platform over his opponents.

San Leandro’s new finance director Tracy Vesely had good news for the city earlier this month when she told the finance committee the deficit could be just $1.26 million for the coming fiscal year. The forecast takes into account no wage increases, a $300,000 increase in revenue, a modest 4.5 percent rise in CalPERS and a big if—no state takeaways. With the Legislature’s recent inability to tame the state’s budget, the specter of Sacramento dipping its hands into local coffers is always a possibility.


Cassidy’s main task, assuming Vesely’s budget forecast is in the neighborhood of $1 million or so, is how to convince union members and opponents it’s in their best interests to further give up benefits for a budget far less tumulteous than once thought.

By the end of the current union contracts, San Leandro city employees will have gone nearly five years between pay increases while paying more for health benefits. As Councilwoman Diana Souza again pointed out, the history of city employees taking a hit financial hit for the economic health of the city goes back years. It is well known union employees took increases in their pensions over pay raises to save the city money when the dot.com bubble burst over a decade ago. The lack of institutional memory of that concession by some at City Hall is a fact that rankles the rank-and-file when Cassidy utters rhetoric calling for shared sacrifice.

National attention and hostility over pensions and collective bargaining in Wisconsin also does not help Cassidy’s argument for reform. Although, like many communities, union strength is waning in San Leandro, but the levers of power still run through its members. With a projected deficit of few millions in San Leandro, as opposed to relatively gigantic shortfalls in neighboring Fremont and Oakland, using the collective economic uncertainty to stick it to unions seems like contrived opportunism and almost silly.

65 comments :

Tavares,

You answered your own question as to why, "With a projected budget defecit of a few millions." Pension reform is going to be an issue until there are no defecits. Taking a pension increase over a pay raise didn't "save the city money" as you claim. It just shifted the fiscal liability on to future generations.

Also, your article basically states that things have gotten incredibly better over night since Santos left office. We wholeheartedly agree on that point. San Leandro sure smells a lot better as well.

Tavares, your article makes no sense. The City transfers money from the Redevelopment Agency to the General Fund. We still have have taxes and unsustainable pensions.
Manuel

The transfer of RDA funds to general fund happened after the finance director's statements. So, presumably the deficit might be erased. There’s a lot of factors here and things change on a whim on this issue. The discussion I’m trying to start is whether the pension argument is a conceit based on economic fears. All I hear is pension and benefits are “not sustainable.” Sounds like government-speak to me.Explain. You want to change it and you have the burden of explaining why to change the policy.

For the other commenter, I believe when Souza or Prola bring up city employees giving up salary for higher pensions a decade ago, their point is not whether the move “saved money” in the long run, but to show city employees came through to help the city at the time of the shortfall.

Gotta love the lack of smarts on most of the commentators here.

The first comment suggest Cassidy is responsible for the current turnaround when the city is operating under a budget put in place last year by Hollister and the old mayor and council.

And as for smell the commenter doesn't even mention Cassidy's profuse sweating during council meetings causing him to strip his coat and tie off.

I can't wait til summer when he leads the council in a wife beater t shirt.

Tavares, how do you think that paying employees 80% of their salary with a COLA is sustainable? Oh wait you just figure "raise taxes".
Manuel

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Manuel, why not raise taxes? Services must be paid for, and State and Federal taxes have gone down quite a bit since the 1970's, which has hurt the San Leandro budget.

Are you in some fantasy land where you think we can cut taxes year after year, but never raise them? I don't entirely agree with the premise that governments should run their budgets like a household, but if you think they should, then a sensible person's "household" would never make the choice to refuse to consider options to increase income if financial difficulties arrived. "No, I can't look for a second job, or a job with higher pay, or allow my spouse to look for one. Better to be homeless, or allow my children to go hungry, or for my home to fall into disrepair." Would that make sense?

If you wish to retain low taxes, be honest in the discussion and name the programs you would cut in order to balance the budget, and admit honestly that there would be consequences from reducing compensation for teachers, police officers, maintenance workers, and other public workers. That would be a real disussion, with truthful opposing visions of San Leandro's future. Absent that, your argument is dishonest, selfish and uninterested in the common good.

In other words, the argument of a disgraceful citizen.

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Those who advocate for major pension changes for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at their current levels is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens were willing and able to make many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that some of your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Proud Moron, You're obviously ignorant of economics and selfish yourself since you believe that all money should flow to the government. You obviously work for the government and are enjoying a cushy lifestyle. To say that the government budget is hurt by low taxes is a statement not worthy of discussion. To attempt to justify waste and largess by government employees who use force and coercision in order to feather their own nest are the statements of a disingenious and narrow minded person.

We can eliminate the Public Works Department and contract out all that they do. The Planning and Building Departments can be streamlined and cut back. There is no need for it to take more than 21 days for anyone to get a building or business permit. To keep deadwood on the payroll is not only unnecessary but insults the intelligence of thinking people.

You are the dishonest one since you believe that NO government program or department should be cut and that the taxpayers should gladly become wards of the state.

In other words you give the argument of a disgraceful and ignorant person.

Manuel

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who wish for major cuts in pensions and large raises in worker contributions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

Asking workers to contribute a large amout to their pensions is a reduction in pay, in an era where they've already accepted wage cuts in recent years. Thesrefore, those fellow citizens and members of the middle class will have less money to spend in town. Is that good for San Leandro?

If you don't care about the fact that some of your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the likely results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Only in the fevered minds of a new breed of government haters do you reduce the number of workers serving the City and improve response times simultaneously.

I don't want to live in the world they would like to create, because sane people know that our government would become LESS responsive if they had their way. Not everything can be done by the private sector. In fact, based on their actions in recent years, many highly wealthy portions of the private sector are much less trustworthy and unaccountable than most elected officials.

At least a politician faces the voters and can be punished if the majority doesn't like what they're doing. When a CEO or bond tradesman or investment banker figures out a complicated scheme which gives them access to many billions of dollars of our tax money, they are rewarded by their bosses and shareholders.

Here's the biggest tell, for those hating on government workers here. The extraordinary attacks on public workers in Wisconsin and another dozen states taking place this year are backed by the Koch Brothers and others with untold millions of campaign and issue ad money.

When you stand against the public sector, you stand with multibillionaire oil executives. Manuel, they'd gladly continue to steal your money if you want to let them. I don't.

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wage increases, wage freezes or wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City and State.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortgages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City and State budgets by paying their taxes and patronizing local businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that some of your neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro and elsewhere, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. These would be among the likely results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Thank God for what happened in Wisconsin. I applaud the courageousness of the GOP there. I hope it takes hold across the country. No longer will the taxpayers be threathened by the thugs who run political machines and their greasy minions. These politicians are accountable to no one, the voters be damned. It's about time we take our nation back from those who disrespect private property and private capital. When you stand against the private sector and defend the government workers who stand with the dictators who use fear and intimidation against the people.
Manuel

OK Proud SL, I can think of an even prouder and more just solution...how about we create jobs, increase retail sales, improve the schools performance and clean up this town to increase property values and by doing so create increased revenue without raising taxes and driving out business and jobs. Economics 1A.

Mary, how would you do each of those things? That's the rub.

less city employees and more contracted private sector jobs= less cuts to education = better schools = better property values = better city to live in.

Absolutely wrong prescription. There's no evidence to show that this is a sustainable model. It is the misguided billionaire's wet dream, though. Maybe you'll be one someday!

Poorer, less qualified workers=better economy and government services? No.

Those who advocate for major pension cuts for middle-class retirees should deal with some realities:

- The chief cause of current pension underfunding is the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Additionally, some jurisdictions recklessly used their public pension funds to artificially balance their budgets. Neither of these are the fault of current or upcoming retirees. As the stock market improves, these pension funds are refilling. To extrapolate that the current underfunding of pensions will remain at its current level is false, and a dishonest way to frame the discussion. To assume pension funding will remain at conribution levels maintained at times of economic booms is also false, by the way.

- We hear often from those doing the bidding of the plutocrats that "people should take responsibility for their own retirements." Well, brothers and sisters, that is EXACTLY what public sector workers have done. In contract negotiations they have often accepted lower wase increases, wage freezes or, as in the case of San Leandro public servants, wage cuts in order to retain secure retirements. These were good-faith agreements that these workers entered into with the public. For San Leandro, or any other jurisdiction, to break away from that in a major way would be an extremely bad-faith thing to do.

- Those who would cut pensions speak as if doing so would have no negative consequences. That's just incorrect. These servants of ours planned their retirement around this level of retirement income. Because they assumed the public would retain its good faith agreement with them, these fellow citizens made many other committments to our City.

They spent money at our local businesses, and wish to continue to do so into their retirements. They entered into mortagages, car loans, and many other major financial committments. They contributed to the City budget by paying their taxes and patronizing San Leandro businesses who also paid taxes, which has funded our schools, public safety and related maintenance services, plus many other services that you value.

If you don't care about the fact that some of our neighbors may go into foreclosure or bankruptcy, or that your favorite local business may encounter financial problems, causing more jobless in San Leandro, then by all means break your word to these retirees. Just don't kid yourself. Some of these would be among the results of an abrupt, shortsighted and unfair change in policy.

Well said John--Manuel,or Paul Var gas when he ran for office in San Leandro, is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts! That's why 2/3 of the voters in San Leandro rejected him. Keep on posting.

John Evans your flights of fancy are just that fantasy. To say that these "public" servants made good faith agreements with the City is ludicrous and is no way accurate.

What we had was a concerted effort by all levels of government; elected and bureaucrat to raise taxes in order to fund a lavish lifestyle for those involved. Public Employees would serve as the mules to get favorable morons elected to office. These are the guys who would show up at phone banks and go door to door to get scum like Tony Santos elected. Once in office Tony Santos and his like kind would then lavishly reward these public employees with pay and benefit packages that were obscene and unsustainable. Yes a moron like you who thinks money grows on trees thinks that they are sustainable. Even the dumbass Tony Santos once said to the effect; "oh there's plenty of money out there to tax, state, local and federal taxes only take around 35% or 40% of income. So Santos and his pond scum ilk would raise taxes and fees in order to pay these lavish plans. In return the City employees would reward idiots like Tony Santos with trips to exotic locations like Portugal, Germany, China.

Only an idiot would think that it was just coincidental that Tony Santos would be travelling to Germany, specifically Munich, on City related matters, and that's also the hometown of his wife.

Sorry John, but the bill has come due and the private sector can no longer pay for the lavish lifestyle of the unproductive employees of the City. Your fantasy only rings true to the idiots like Santos and other government worker parasites.
Manuel

The ignorance is nauseating. I'm beginning to think that these comments sections should be moderated to censor threats, foul language and WRONG. Your slander towards our City workers is offensive, but it's more than that.

Our previous Mayor Shelia Young was quite proud to win eight years in office despite the opposition of Labor. So, misguided one, how do you defend your "theory" now? No lie is beneath you, it appears.

Sounds like sour grapes. Thank God people picked up the phone and worked to prevent Paul Vargas from taking office.

Bottom line, public pensions need reform, we can not afford them in their currentstate. Something that would help immediately with supporters of the public pension system would be to take out all the ridiculous benefit increasing loopholes - overtime, sick pay, vacation time, etc as part of the calculation for benefits - pensions should be based on base salary. I am not opposed to public employees enyjoying a pension for their labor, but the rules need to be cleaned up and it needs to be sustainable without the general public always on the hook for more.

And Tavares....could you please hide your dislike of Cassidy a bit better, the clown/circus type style and colors and the big hair photo shows your disdain for the man even before your words.

Barry, the motif was loosely based on the sun will come out tomorrow. I was poking fun at this. Of course, the infamous happy face Cassidy photo was too easy.

Who says I have disdain for Cassidy. Let me ask you this: don’t you think the guy has enough outlets willing to put a happy face on him? Did you read the San Leandro Times’ article this week on his speech? Outrageous. Were they listening to it? There’s much to worry about Cassidy. It’s my job to keep an eye on him. What he appears to be doing is taking some credit for an economy naturally coming to its senses. Santos caught the budget to the bare bones, so its easy for just a slight bump to make things rosy in the city. What you should worry about is Cassidy’s propensity for using fear, which is no small thing. While he said San Leandro is improving, he also threw in “Vallejo-type” bankruptcy. Was that in any other article you read?

If people want to read happy, delusional stories when they are not warrented, then my writing is not for you, but Barry you’re a loyal reader and that’s not you and I appreciate your support

I oppose abusive pension spiking. I'll note that the most outrageous stories of pension spiking have been committed by managers, chiefs and upper-level executives, not the rank and file.

The devil sure is in the details regarding pension reform. For example, if a City or other jurisdiction has consistently understaffed itself, requiring workers to do overtime in order to cover services, I believe the jurisdiction should be on the hook for that.

As a personal preference, I'd rather see 20 people working full-time with little to no overtime that 15 people working lots of OT to cover. Many jurisdictions have disagreed.

John, nauseating? You must be in the bathroom with the fan turned off while looking in the mirror. You can't refute one damn thing I said, and that sent you into a pissie fit. You and your cronies in the government have lost the battle and you know it. Money and wealth are created and it's not created for the government workers to sit on their butts and do nothing, or hide out at the bar at Francesco's on Hegenberger.

Shelia Young had labor against her? You aren't talking to some half witted slob who voted for her or Tony Santos. What planet do you live on? Shelia Young was just like Santos; tax, tax and tax some more. Spend like there's no tomorrow and raise more taxes. For you to even hint that that haggard Sea Sow Hillibilly was in anyway a responsible Mayor not only highlights your ignorance but insults those of us with common sense.

Manuel

Perhaps, just perhaps, at a time of difficult budgets and "shared sacrifice", we can't afford to continue to do things like this:

G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether

General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies....

While General Electric is one of the most skilled at reducing its tax burden, many other companies have become better at this as well. Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less....

Such strategies, as well as changes in tax laws that encouraged some businesses and professionals to file as individuals, have pushed down the corporate share of the nation’s tax receipts — from 30 percent of all federal revenue in the mid-1950s to 6.6 percent in 2009."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html?_r=1&hp

Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Boeing and Exxon-Mobil have also avoided paying any income taxes in recent years.

http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/26/main-street-tax-cheats/#

As somebody above pointed out, Manuel never bothers checking facts. He is under the assumption if he thinks it's true, it must be. Sheila was NEVER endorsed by Labor for Mayor. She helped bring Wal-Mart to town, and that was one of many reasons she didn't get the endorsement. Manuel, just try to do a little research before you think your opinion is fact. Lastly, why do you continually resort to name calling? Do you really think that helps convince people you're right? BTW, I didn't vote for Sheila either.

Oh boy the "Labor" endorsement. Big deal. Those idiots in "Labor" back Ed Suchman for City Council in 1998 and Suchman was in favor of Wal-Mart coming into town. Two FACTS!

Seems that "Labor" endorsements are nothing worthwhile. You also forgot to mention that Labor did not back Julian Polvorosa either. But when Shelia got in there she gave "Labor" everything they wanted. Shelia fought against tax relief and fought in favor of increased taxation and increased pay and benefits not only for City Employees but for City Councilmen.

Sorry you fools don't let the truth get in the way of your poisonous venom. But it is very entertaining to watch you squirm like snakes.
Manny

"Manuel", March 24th: "What we had was a concerted effort by all levels of government; elected and bureaucrat to raise taxes in order to fund a lavish lifestyle for those involved...Once in office Tony Santos and his like kind would then lavishly reward these public employees with pay and benefit packages that were obscene and unsustainable."

I don't follow his logic. Less than 48 hours ago he says it's a concerted effort at all levels of government to back Labor's unsustainable compensation demands, while today he says that Labor endorsements for government positions are nothing worthwhile and hold no power. These don't square with each other.

Also, Shelia Young did little for Labor's interests. She let in Wal-Mart and refused to lend support to the workers' right to organize there, at San Leandro Hospital, or anywhere else as far as I can tell.

San Leandro City workers did not recieve superior compensation to those in other Cities during her terms. There is a need for our City to compete for the best workers. You would think that a free-market guy like "Manuel" would understand that. I'm sure he's been very well compensated for his brand of genius.

"Manuel", March 23rd: "Thank God for what happened in Wisconsin."

Yeah, I can see how they would make someone like him proud. Radical Republicans like him are truly respectful of fair, open debate, compromise, and the rule of law.

"Yet another shoe has dropped in the battle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-public employee union law -- with state Republican leaders now apparently defying or attempting to circumvent a court order...

Last week, a judge in Dane County (Madison) blocked the law... The judge's order "restrain[ed] and enjoin[ed] the further implementation" of the law, including the prevention of Secretary of State Doug LaFollette (D) from publishing the act in the Wisconsin State Journal, which acts as the state's official newspaper for the purpose of giving the public official notice of new laws -- the final step for the law to take effect...

But now, state Republicans have had the bill published through a different office -- the Legislative Reference Bureau, which handles drafting and research for the legislature -- according to the LRB's statutory requirement to publish legislation within ten days of enactment.

Interestingly, the LRB itself says that this publication does not constitute action that would put the law into effect. But the state's Republican leaders disagree. Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald (R) says the LRB publication constitutes official publication and the insists the law will take effect Saturday."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/wis-republicans-publish-anti-union-law----in-apparent-defiance-of-court-order.php

"John Evans", don't try to rewrite history, you're not talking to some dumb@$$ who voted for Shelia or Tony. Shelia Young voted to raise taxes, vote to increase spending, voted against tax relief the entire time she was on the City Council.

Wal-Mart came in before Shelia was Mayor, she was a mere Councilwoman and to say that she on her own brought Wal-Mart here is a bald faced lie, but then again, that isn't beneath you.

"John Evans", you sound like John Jermanis in thinking that the City of San Leandro has to "compete" with workers with other Cities. There is never a shortage of people willing to work for the government. For you to think that there is "competition" among Cities for workers is a poor joke. Only a moron who works for the government would think such.

Jermanis used that line of reasoning in order to raise taxes, increase the payroll and thus increase his own compensation.

Yeah "John Evans" I'm very thankful of what the GOP did in Wisconsin and can't wait until it finally happens here, when the people who pay the bills tell the lazy sloths that their gravy train is over.

Manny

"Manny" approves of those who break the law.

I'd call Manny an idiot, but I don't want to put down idiots!

It appears we are all fighting over the one cookie left from the dozen we started with before Wall Street and our Federal/Congressional friends bestowed this giant mess upon us and took all of our cookies. Local government workers are not the problem for the problems we face, nor are rank and file union members. I do agree though we do need to reform the loopholes and make public pensions sustainable without gouging indivdual taxpayers any further.

Manuel is correct in his assessment gentlemen. The Public Pensions are unsustainable. The money to pay from them comes from the taxpayers, thus the taxpayers must have a diminished standard of living in order to pay for the Government Workers Pension. Simple fact. No trying to argue otherwise.

I don't approve of Government Employees lobbying for increased taxes. Therefore I don't "approve" of those breaking the law.
Manny

Frank,

You absolutely will get an argument on this. Pensions, both private and public sector, were completely sustainable for over half a century. A chief reason we now don't have enough money to fund government services and decently compensate workers is because the biggest corporations and wealthiest among us are betraying the American public. The tax breaks we have given them "come from the taxpayers" as well, and are a much greater cause of our deficits than decent compensation for the middle-class. What you want is a tax on schoolteachers, nurses and police so that we can increase income redistribution to the wealthiest. I don't.

Shipping jobs overseas and refusing to fund the public commons is economic treason.

Manny,

The Republicans in Wisconsin have been conducting lawbreaking activities for a month now. So, you are supporting lawbreakers.

You lobby for lower taxes. Corporations and the rich lobby for tax breaks or tax loopholes. Why should we approve of that lobbying, but not law-abiding campaigns which call for an end to mindless tax cuts and a restoration of the public good? We now have the lowest Federal taxes as a percentage of GDP since 1950.

A question for the two of you: is it right that you and I have a tax burden, but GE, Exxon, Wells Fargo and other megawealthy corporations do not?

Sorry John, but once again you have lost your argument. Pulbic Pensions were never EVER, at 80% of final pay, with COLA, and able to retire with 20, 25, or 30 years. You want the less educated to believe that that has been the norm for over a half century. Never has been Public Pensions were around 50% of pay, NEVER 80% with COLA. So please, stop insulting us with your made up "facts".

The Corporations are not betraying anyone John. Wealth is generated by the private sector, the Government then uses its force to TAX, ie redistribute wealth, from those who create it to those who do not. Let's be honest in your argument John, what you want is wealth redistribution from those who create it to the Government.

This silliness that you have "tax on schoolteachers, nurses and police" is disingenous because these occupations do not create wealth, whereas Corporations are the ones who create wealth. That is something you cannot fathom as you think all wealth is created by the Government and somehow late at night the big bad corporations are raiding the "government piggy bank". Not a very enlightened nor mature viewpoint.

The Democrats in Wisconsin have been breaking the law by not showing up at the Legislature like they were elected to do. So once again, your type attemnpts to make the law-breaker into a hero while the honest GOP lawmaker is some how breaking the law. Again another immature and disingeous argument based not upon fact but fantasy and propaganda.

Your type argues about tax rates, but what you really advocate in favor of is a high rate of income redistribution from those who create the wealth to those who do not create it. The 1986 Tax Reform lowered the tax rates but also eliminated many of the "loopholes" that your type rails against. You don't want fairness, you want money redistribution to a very small segment of the population that recieves government checks.

Frank--the average Cal-Pers pension is $25,000+. The large pensions you read about are the top 1% of public employees. The stories about the pensions not being sustainable are based on a faulty assumption that they will only earn a 4% rate of return over their lifetime. Cal-Pers rate over the last 20 years has averaged 7.9% even with the latest recession.

Schoolteachers, nurses and police do not create wealth. That is a very interesting argument, Frank.

A capitalist economy depends on the ability of its citizens to consume. If people make so little that it is all they can do to pay rent, food and utilities, they have no disposable income to buy things, businesses close (small businesses first), and the economy grinds to a halt. By their purchasing power, everyone creates wealth.

All titans of industry have been educated by skilled schoolteachers. All have had their health maintained by the care of nurses; many of their lives have been saved. All have their property and persons defended and protected by police and fire services. In fact, the private property rights that businesses and the wealthy depend on can only be exercised with these and other protections, all paid for by taxpayers.

Corporations have also depended on our government to survive and thrive. The interstate highway and airline systems were constructed by the taxpayers, and maintained by our government. All of our communications systems, including telephone, radio and television, had their basic infrastructures assembled by our money. The Internet, the medium we are using right now which assists all corporations, was invented thru a government program.

Copyright laws which corporations depend on to defend their right to gain profit from their inventions? Created and defended by governments. Water, electricity and other neccessary services for "wealth creators"? Thank the taxpayers.

We employ people to provide these and more services through our taxes. Those who benefit most from those irreplaceable services should pay their fair share. "Nothing" is far less than their fair share. Apparently the 1986 Tax Reform is no longer doing the job.

Money is always being redistributed by governments. Right now, our government is siphoning money from the poor and giving it to the rich.

John, once again you have made no sense. But thank you for boring us.

Your argument does not hold water because the government is taxing people, taking away their disposable income, giving to to those who don't create wealth. There is no way in hell any government can "siphon money from the poor and give it to the rich", because duh, the poor by definition don't have any money. Another mindless argument.

Manuel

Manuel/Paul Vargas--today 400 Americans, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion taxpayer bailout of 2008, the last year of Bush's reign, have more money than the bottom 155 million Americans. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'etat, then you are not being honest with yourself.

And the bottom 40% pay no federal taxes at all to pay their way and fair share and they do use federal services paid for by the rest of us, so shut up already!

Everyone who gets a paycheck pays Federal payroll taxes. Everyone, whether they work or not, pay Federal excise taxes on consumer items like food, gasoline, aviation, alcohol, and cigarettes. The 40% you mention have no net debt on their tax filings due April 15th, but they have been paying Federal taxes throughout the year.

"Thom Hartmann, in his 2009 book Threshold, discusses...why we have reached the point we have today...The “robber baron” J.P. Morgan himself stated that nobody in a corporation should make more than about 20 times the lowest paid employee. That is not even remotely true today....

Coupling weak or nonexistent regulations with new opportunities, it became possible to redefine employees from being the heart of the organization to simple interchangeable cogs in a machine; merely a variable line item on the P&L statement...

Hartmann’s conclusion is that (the reason for increasing CEO pay) is even more basic - simply supply and demand...the limiting factor is actually morality. “The CEOs of the worlds largest corporations (must) daily make decisions that destroy the lives of many other people” and do so with equanimity - they must, in fact, have sociopathic qualities. Since only about 1-3% of society are sociopaths, and only a tiny percentage of them have all of the other qualifications required, the available pool is thus extremely small...

He concludes that “Todays modern transnational corporate CEOs – who live in a private jet and limousine world entirely apart from the rest of us – are remanants from the times of kings, queens and lords. They reflect the dysfunctional … cultural belief that wealth is proof of goodness, and that goodness then justifies making more of the wealth.”

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/03/income-inequality-gap-widens-among-us-communities-over-30-years.html

Manuel/paul var gas --that's because millions of Americans are working for minimum wages so the top 1% can take huge bonuses, destroy the middle class, and laugh at fools like you. p.s. 25% of the Fortune 500 companies paid NO income tax despite making billions--talk about deadbeats!

Ok, above, you got it partially wrong once again - both progressives and the far right always do that...lets talk about a tax structure that forces corporations to look for ways to stay competitve with foreign companies by moving key operations for tax purpsoes to Ireland and most other countries in the world that have a more reasonable corporate tax rate.

Bring back "fair" trade with tariffs instead of free trade. When that was in place we had a booming economy, a huge middle class, and much higher tax rates on the millionaires and billionaires. Now we are a third world country with 400 Americans controlling more wealth than the bottom 155 million Americans--the "robber barons" are back!

Yeah, Rational Guy has had the propaganda catapulted into his head. Repetition is convincing, but it does not create truth.

GE, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Boeing, Exxon-Mobil and others like them who have paid NO U.S. income taxes in recent years are "forced" to be competitive with foreign companies by moving their operations to other countries for tax purposes?

Come, now.

Countries who have lowered their corporate tax rate in order to attract business have gotten booms for a few years. Then their economies crash hard once the corporate-built financial bubble bursts. See, the corporations take the money from the bubble and leave the countries they abandon with the bag.

There are zero examples of countries who have created sustainable economic booms WITH a wide middle class by deeply slashing or eliminating corporate tax rates. That is true of the states in the U.S. as well.

It's quite revealing Rational Guy brought up Ireland as an example. I'd agree, Ireland's experiences over the last decade are a perfect example of misguided governmental policies and corporate amorality. How's Ireland doing these days, anyhow?

Once again John, you're an idiot. The Reagan tax cuts brought about 28 years of economic boom. So blow you're socialist/leftist nonesense out of a cannon.
Manuel

Thoughts like John's are why many Democrats become Republican's or Independent when they mature and understand business in a capitalist society.

Thoughts like anon. above and Manuel's are why the far right-wing extremists are losing elections in Ca. Calif. registration numbers are 44.5% Dem., 30.8% Rep., 20.1% Decline to State, and the rest other. The party losing the most in the registration battle is the Rep. because of their extreme positions. The moderates are leaving the Rep. party in droves, but they are too stupid to see that conservative extremism = rejection!

And that is why CA is sliding downhill the fastest!

Republican registration is down more likely because they are the ones who actually work for a living and thus their jobs get transferred to more economically stable and attractive states like Arizona and Texas.

The Reagan tax cuts for the rich also drove our country into terrible debt. That said, I'd like to return to the highest marginal tax rate during Reagan's first six years in office. Would you agree to that, Manny?

I said "...sustainable economic booms with a wide middle class." First off, Reagan's policies began the slow shrinking of the middle class that continues to this day. Second, there was economic recession for 16 months early in Reagan's term. There were also recessions that began in 1990 and 2001.

Yeah, Arizona seems real economically stable and attractive right now, what with its hate-on-brown-people campaign they have going on right now. As for Texas, the facts have a liberal bias again:

"(Texas currently has) a $27 billion budget deficit, larger as a percentage of the deficit than (California)....the real savings in the legislative budget plan come from slashing Medicaid and cutting per-student spending from more than $9,000 to $7,800 each year. The state's cap of 22 students per elementary school class is almost certain to be lifted."

http://www.calitics.com/diary/13114/texas-v-california-this-time-with-the-lights-on

John; zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Proud; Can't handle the truth that Arizona and Texas are better places to run a business than California? zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Manny

Wow Manny--real intelligent post! How about some facts to go along with your opinion. Oh wait--you never give any.

Would "Manny" agree that we should return to the top marginal tax rate our country had during Reagan's first six years in office?

No "John Evans". You obviously have no knowledge of taxes if don't know what the 1986 Tax Reform accomplished.
Manny

Is it right that you and I pay taxes, but GE, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Boeing, Exxon-Mobil and other megawealthy corporations do not?

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