By Doug Porter
Former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, along with former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, are headed back to the drawing board, following the failure of their latest pension “reform” ballot proposal to gain traction in California.
DeMaio and Reed were hoping to attract funding and political support for a pension reform initiative involving voter approval for each and every future plan throughout the state, negating what is now part of the collective bargaining process.
The California Republican Party failed to endorse the measure during its Anaheim convention last weekend. DeMaio and Reed cried foul last month after the State Attorney General’s office gave the proposed reforms ballot language not to their liking.
“That the California Republican Party won’t back Carl DeMaio’s attack on retirement security shows just how shoddy it is,” said Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that their measure is destined to fail and the proponents are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”
Although DeMaio and Reed had called their measure “bulletproof,” legal experts and nonpartisan state officials were wary of the language used.
As Bill Raden, writing at Capital and Main noted,
…the act’s very “empowerment” of voters to make changes to the terms of the plan on an ongoing basis would run afoul of IRS rules, and that could result in the revocation of CalSTRS’ tax exempt status. Without tax exemption, the letter points out, “the system would effectively close and the State and school districts would have to assume principal funding of earned benefits for retired educators and their beneficiaries, and to pay the annual taxes due on the income from CalSTRS’ $190 billion investment portfolio.”
Joel Fox, writing at Fox and Hounds, let it be known that DeMaio and Reed were cutting their losses. He also thinks the choice of the 2016 election may not have been a wise one.
Over the weekend, two sources indicated to me that the Chuck Reed/Carl DeMaio pension reform initiative would be pulled, re-written, and re-submitted to the attorney general for a new title and summary. If it is to be re-filed, it is worth considering for which ballot it would be re-submitted.
Whatever a new initiative might declare would be attacked by public employee unions with criticisms real or imagined. But would the placement of the initiative on the 2018 ballot give the measure a higher probability of success?
The 2016 presidential election will bring out a greater turnout of voters, many occasional voters who don’t pay as much attention to public affairs. The profile for the 2016 electorate would contain a larger percentage turnout of Democratic voters who are more closely connected to public employees whose union leaders will rail against any pension reform initiative.
The one advantage to placing items on the 2016 ballot would be the relatively low threshold (585,407 valid voter signatures) to qualify the measure. Qualifying for the 2018 ballot will require many more signatures, since its standard will be based on 2016 turnout.
One thing is certain; there will be more of these conservative ballot offensives claiming to offer “common sense” reforms. Backdoor attacks on unions are a key element of what Bernie Sanders calls “the billionaire class” strategy to expand their wealth.
Labor Appeals to the Pope
While AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry were among the big names attending the White House welcoming ceremony for the Pope, there were other activists in the room.
Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald’s fast-food worker in Chicago who wrote a widely-read essay about what it’s like to live as a single mother on $10.50 an hour, and other representatives of the Fight for Fifteen movement were also invited.
Sen. Bernie Sanders made an appearance yesterday in support of striking congressional restaurant workers. “The time has come for federal contractors to pay all of their workers no less than $15 an hour, with decent benefits and with the right to form a union,” Sanders said.
From Al Jazeera:
Like many of those connected to labor campaigns in low-wage service and retail professions, the workers participating in Tuesday’s strike are seeking a wage floor of $15 per hour and the right to form union. Over the past two years they have successfully pressed the White House into issuing executive orders raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 and tightening labor law compliance rules, but say they need the Obama administration to do more.
“Fifteen and a union is just a start,” said Charles Gladden, 63, who says he has worked for nearly nine years in Senate cafeterias — first at the Capitol Building and then at Dirksen — and earns roughly $11 an hour.
Gladden was one of the signatories to an open letter from Good Jobs Nation to Pope Francis requesting an audience before his talks with Congress and the White House. Gladden said the pope recognizes that “the wealthy are taking advantage of the poor.”
As expected, Pope Francis had a few words to say about the environment. From Mother Jones:
President Obama welcomed Pope Francis to the White House Wednesday morning to loud cheers from thousands gathered to greet the leader of the Catholic church—in a city that has virtually shut down for the historic event. The ceremony marks the first time that Pope Francis has visited the United States and kicks off a much-anticipated three-city tour that includes Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City.
During his first address in the United States, Francis pulled no punches when talking about one of the defining issues of his leadership, calling on Americans to protect our “common home” and act on climate change with a sense of urgency—a stance that many Republicans have criticized.
“It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” Francis said, in slow but forceful English.
SD Sheriffs Investigating Hate Email
Call me cynical, but I’m highly skeptical about local government agencies and investigations.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s righteous and important for citizens to demand fairness and transparency. We’re paying for government, after all. Let’s just say I’ve noticed a distinct difference in how complaints are handled based on economic criteria.
First up in today’s listings of government gone wrong is the San Diego County Sheriffs Department. Here’s an agency that’s managed to keep the lid on what’s obviously a systemic problem.
Whether it’s beating up on people with Downs Syndrome, officers with road rage problems, or people dying in the local jails (60 dead over the past five years,) the county’s law enforcement agency manages to stumble from lawsuit to lawsuit without anybody asking too many questions.
The United Against Police Terror San Diego group held a press conference and protest yesterday following receipt of a hate email that appears to be from a sheriff’s employee’s Internet Protocol (IP) address.
From NBC7 News:
The group, which has been an outspoken critic of police brutality, said they were sent an email that contained multiple profanities in the subject line and called Ferguson protesters “animals.”
SDSO Lt. Marco Garmo said the department is investigating what his agency calls a personnel matter.
“It appears an email came from a sheriff’s IP address. We are taking this very seriously, and an internal investigation is underway to determine where, how and who the email came from,” Garmo said. “As such, we are unable to provide any additional information at this time, but we are taking this matter very seriously.”
Don’t hold your breath on this one.
Slumlord Protest in City Heights
City council candidate Sandra Galindo met Maria, a single mother of three with limited English skills, as she was campaigning in City Heights on behalf of the San Diego Socialist Campaign. The candidate learned about terrible living conditions at Maria’s apartment, and how pleas for help were simply ignored.
Back in August, the group held a rally outside the California Housing Works offices, hoping to call attention to the lack of funding for enforcement agencies dealing with low-income housing.
On Monday, they kept a promise to keep up the pressure, holding another protest outside the front door of a property manager the groups says is responsible for unsafe living conditions.
From Dave Rice at the Reader:
“The cockroaches, the spiders are everywhere — they’re in the kitchen, in the bedrooms, and nothing is done,” stated Galindo. “She pays her rent every month, and yet still these conditions persist.”
Maria later displayed a photo (on her mobile phone) of her son’s swollen and infected toe — the result, she says, of a spider bite that required hospitalization. The boy, seeing the photo, lifted his shoe up and hopped around on one foot, pointing to the toe that had been bitten.
Shortly before 7 p.m., the group marched from the corner of University and Fairmount to an apartment complex on Highland Avenue, shouting slogans including, “We’re gonna stand up for our rights — rent control in City Heights!” and “Stop the war on drugs, start the war on bugs!”
On This Day: 1868 – The Workingman’s Advocate of Chicago published the first installment of The Other Side, by Martin A. Foran, president of the Coopers’ Int’l Union. It’s believed to be the first novel by a trade union leader and some say the first working-class novel ever published in the U.S. 1957 – Nine black students withdrew from Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas due to the white mob outside. 1969 – It was reported by “The London Daily Mirror” that Paul McCartney was dead. It was the first time the rumor was printed.
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