Reforms IF Court Rules Pensions can be Changed for Future Service

In December of 2018, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments in what is generally referred to as the Cal Fire pension case. The ruling could potentially overturn what is commonly referred to as the “California Rule.” The current interpretation of the rule is that pension benefits, once increased, cannot be reduced for existing employees […]

In Search of Public Employers Willing to Fight for Their Right to Free Speech

The recent Janus decision by the US Supreme Court gives public employees the right to quit union membership – or to never join a union in the first place. This sweeping ruling not only banned unions from requiring non-members to still pay so-called “agency fees,” but it required unions to obtain “affirmative consent” from public […]

The Case for Adopting COIN “Civic Openness in Negotiations” Ordinances

One effective way to help ensure that cities and counties do not approve contracts that reward insiders and punish taxpayers is to adopt so-called “COIN” ordinances. COIN stands for civic openness in negotiations. These ordinances are particularly helpful when cities and counties are in negotiations with public employee unions to adopt or renew labor agreements. […]

Starting an Independent Fire Department

If your city contracts out to a state or county fire agency for services, you may want to consider the example of Calimesa, California. Facing rising costs to comply with minimum staffing rules, as well as ballooning costs for defined benefit pensions, in January 2018 the city formed their own independent fire department. The process […]

How Local Elected Officials Can Work With Local Activists

Whenever a high-profile citizens initiative appears on the statewide California ballot, voter turnout increases. An immediate example is the gas tax repeal, likely to appear on the November 2018 ballot across California, and likely to increase voter turnout. Another impact from these initiatives is the opportunity it represents for candidates. A classic example of this […]

Using Citizen’s Initiatives to Repeal Local Taxes

Local reforms can be initiated by city councils and county boards of supervisors, but they can also be initiated by citizen activists. That’s exactly what’s happened, three times, thanks to the efforts of a group based in Pasadena called “TeaPAC.” Their specialty has been to offer voters the opportunity to repeal local taxes, utility taxes […]

Resources for California’s Pension Reformers

Stampede: a mass movement of people at a common impulse. –  Merriam Webster dictionary The pension reform stampede is about to finally overrun California’s political status-quo for three reasons. (1) Pension debt is out of control. While official estimates are slightly lower, most reasonable estimates put California’s total unfunded liabilities for state and local pensions at […]

How to Restore Financial Sustainability to Public Pensions

Last month the League of California Cities released a “Retirement System Sustainability Study and Findings.” The findings were not surprising. “Key Findings” were (1) City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels, (2) Rising pension costs will require cities to nearly double the percentage of their general fund dollars they pay to CalPERS, and […]

How Glendale Saved Money on Retiree Health Costs

In most cities and counties in California, “OPEB” (other post-employment benefit) costs are a growing expense. While OPEB costs do not amount to nearly as much as costs for pensions, they are significant, and like pension costs, they are increasing every year. And unlike pensions, cities and counties usually have more flexibility to modify OPEB […]

Prohibit Public Money in Campaigns for New Taxes and New Bonds

What’s the difference between “communications” and a political campaign? The difference should be obvious. When you engage in a political campaign, you are explicitly supporting a particular candidate or ballot measure. When you are “communicating,” you are compelled to limit yourself to presenting objective facts and information to the public; you cannot take a stand […]