SUNDAY COLUMN | On the same day this week reporters from the San Francisco Chronicle took to social media in protest of a proposed hike in health care premiums laid out by their management, the paper’s two star reporters wrote Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi essentially pulls down $800,000-a-year—not news--but that her pension will pay her over $400,000 for life. That was news. However, let’s pull back the curtain on what is really going on.
Sure, Muranishi’s compensation is a boatload of money, but its significance is greatly clouded by what was not mentioned and merely Phil Matier and Andrew Ross fanning the flames of conservatives hungry to further trample on workers.
While Muranishi, a county employee for 38 years, is also part of management, the headlines and editorials this week critical of her paycheck, make no consideration for the fact the meme of a government worker making a killing, whether it be the head of the fifth-largest county in California or one possessing a annual budget of over $2.5 billion, is purposely lost in the translation. In fact, the meme is designed to demonize all government workers at every level, a majority of whom earn paltry pensions barely large enough to survive month-to-month. Also, don't forget many local jurisdictions, whether they be Alameda County or its cities, are heading into early budget hearings for the next fiscal year starting next week. Coincidence?
Here's what is notable about the Chronicle is the flagrant lack of context. What does the top executive in Alameda County exactly do? Is her pay within range of other large counties in the state? Does she even do a good job, according to a general consensus? Of course, none of these facts made it into the Matier & Ross column, normally a haven for news items blatantly lifted from local bloggers without attribution.
The problem with these types of hit pieces aiming to maim public workers is they never offer alternatives. Instead of paying someone with extensive experience in public sector a wage commensurate with their talents, should we instead hire a 35-year-old with little know-how and pay them $150,000? If you’re Yolo County, maybe. If you’re Alameda County, in the heart of one of the most populated and dynamic areas in the world, you spend the money for quality and avoid problems inherent with running a chintzy, error-prone organization. It's a catch-22 because once you hire that inexperienced executive and everything goes to hell, the same folks complaining about city employee salaries come back and yell, "What the fuck is going on with City Hall!?"
What this story does remind us, though, is the two barons who run all the papers in the Bay Area—Hearst Corporation and the Bay Area News Group—control the local media and possess stark anti-labor stances. And they are more than willing to undercut workers wages and benefits with propaganda. When protesting Chronicle scribes again walk the picket line, I suggest keeping an eye on Matier & Ross. They’re likely management spies.
“Unless these numbers go up, this is going to fail, this whole thing is going to go up in flames.”
-Michael Sweeney, mayor of Hayward, Mar. 26, remarking about data found in a report on the city’s federal grant to improve its schools showing just 16 percent school attendance among ninth graders in its chronically poor Jackson Triangle neighborhood.
The Week That Was
>>>Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, also a Haggerty ally, is battling a low-level schism among South Asian Democrats in his 25th District. It was reported this week, a re-vote for the crucial slate of Democratic convention delegates lobbied for by Wieckowski returned no change in the list of winners from last January. Wieckowski needs to stay in his delegates good graces if he wants the party’s endorsement for a likely 2014 run for the State Senate. In the meantime, expect to see Wieckowski at many cultural fundraisers in the Fremont area in the next year donning full ethnic garb.
>>>Rep. Mike Honda now lacks only Bill and Hillary Clinton (maybe, FDR) as the biggest names in Democratic Party circles not yet endorsing his 2014 re-election in the 17th Congressional District against, as of yet, not a single soul. Ro Khanna, however is lurking over Honda shoulder, so this week, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, along with State Attorney General Kamala Harris added their support.
>>>San Leandro Councilmember Ursula Reed surprised many this week by announcing she will run for Alameda County superintendent of schools next year. Shelia Jordan, the current officeholder since 1999 is likely to retire, but Reed just won re-election to her District 2 council seat last November.
Tweet of the Week
“Curious: Does today’s "seeing red" protest include @sfchronicle columnists who've opined in favor of healthcare cuts to govt. workers?”
-@GonzOakland, Mar. 25, referencing San Francisco Chronicle reporters, who launched a social media campaign in protest of proposed cuts to health care benefits by its employer, Hearst Corporation.
>>>Matt Taibbi, this country’s greatest investigative reporter, demolishes California’s “Three Strikes Law” and poignantly describes the insanity of jailing mostly poor and/or black men for stealing $2.50 socks, for instance, while Wall Street banksters continue to reside in gilded towers of ill-gotten means. (Rolling Stone, Apr. 27).
Voice of the People
“It's quite hypocritical for the pro-homosexual marriage and pro-abortion crowd to have dinner honoring a Roman Catholic Saint. But, then stupidity is innate with Democrats.”
-Anonymous, Mar. 28, commenting about Eden Area Democrats and their annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner in Hayward on “Corbett Shook Swalwell’s Hand; Lockyer Left Nadia At Home; Democrats Gossiped.”