Pension “Reformers” get whipped in 2 city elections


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In the myriad of conservative think tank writings, including newspaper columns, so-called research papers, and hand-wringing diatribe, one would believe that the status of public pensions and their funding is a crisis upon us that demands immediate and dramatic action. At least that is what is wanted by those who see dollar signs in their eyes over the potential for the billions in public pension dollars in this country to be channeled into 401(K) plans and other investment vehicles that banks and other Wall Street interests can tap with an array of fees and charges. The goal of these investment management interests is to convince the public that a crisis exists, and then get their hands on the billions that are in the funds to produce a new source for the levying of fees and charges for the foreseeable future. A potential cash cow.

Two of yesterday’s elections were significant tests of whether the public is ready to buy into the premise being advanced by these interests – The City of Stockton where a tax increase for a bankruptcy recovery plan that protected city employee pensions was on the ballot, and the City of Cincinnati, Ohio where a pension reform proposal backed by out of state billionaires would have, according to a on line report from Governing, “Affected 7,500 workers, retirees and their beneficiaries and shut off the city’s defined benefits plan to new hires to enroll them in a 401(k) style plan. “

The Stockton tax increase was approved by 52% of the voters there in an abysmal turnout of only 21% of the voters, which signals that 79% aren’t that concerned about the issue. In Cincinnati the voters rejected the pension overhaul proposal by a margin of 78% to 22% (I have not yet seen numbers about what percentage of voters there actually voted).

We can expect the pension reform spin-doctors are at work to develop explanations of why they were trounced in these two elections, but for now the results seem to indicate that the voters are skeptical of their agenda and so-called analysis. The Cincinnati result is especially noteworthy given that some of the same out of state interests are backing a proposed pension reform initiative here in California. That’s the one two Orange County Mayors – Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana and Tom Tait of Anaheim are backing. Undoubtedly paid signature gatherers are at work now seeking enough signatures to qualify their idea of California Pension reform for the 2014 ballot.


About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.