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 […]

Marin County Discloses Debt Balances on Property Tax Bills

How would you like it if every time you received a property tax bill from your county assessor, you also received a notice that disclosed the amount of the county’s total debt, annual operating expenses, total unfunded liability for pensions, and total unfunded liability for retirement healthcare? You might not like it, but you’d have […]

Steps to Improve Police Training and Accountability

“We’re not anti-cop. We’re anti bad cop. Bad cops have to be fired, just like bad politicians” – Leader of Black Lives Matter counter-protest, who was spontaneously invited to speak at a pro-Trump rally (watch video). There aren’t too many things that are easier to agree on than this sentiment. Even those of us who […]

How Placer County Privatized Inmate Food Services

Introducing competition to the public sector is an essential part of delivering cost-effective services to taxpayers. What happened earlier this year in Placer County is just one example of how millions of savings can be realized by privatizing a public service. By replacing county employees with a private firm to provide inmate food services to […]

Pension Reform – The San Jose Model

Pension reform in San Jose began in June 2012 when voters, by a margin of 69% to 31%, approved Measure B. Despite overwhelming support from voters, however, this vote triggered a cascade of union funded lawsuits which by 2015 had overturned several of the key provisions of the reform measure. Finally, in August 2015, the […]

Reforming Binding Arbitration

The City of San Jose was a pioneer in reforming their rules governing binding arbitration, rules that may seem obscure and complex to the uninitiated, but which have profound consequences. Until the San Jose city council put arbitration reform on the ballot in 2010, unelected arbitrators could end labor negotiations with decisions that were devastating […]

Pension Reform – The San Diego Model

Beginning around 2009 it became clear to civic leaders and councilmembers that the City of San Diego faced serious financial challenges. A San Diego County Grand Jury in that year released a report that recommended the city file for bankruptcy. The report cited the underfunded City’s pension system as the primary underlying cause of their […]