Another blow to the pension monster

 

San Diego

“When governments fail to act on problems such as with pension liabilities, the people have a constitutional right to pursue a citizens’ initiative by obtaining signatures on a petition and presenting solutions directly to the voters, bypassing the legislative body. The court held that there is no requirement that citizens’ initiatives be negotiated with labor unions.”

—Jan Goldsmith, former San Diego city attorney, crowing about the latest court ruling that there is no inviolate legal right to ever-expanding pensions that bankrupt cities and suck services away from the public; and that citizens have the right to change things.

I tweeted last week when an appeals court overturned a crazy state labor board ruling that a voter-approved San Diego pension reform was invalid because the city failed to bargain over it first with labor unions. Citizens in America can create and approve initiatives, thank you very much, even if labor unions, and outfits like Hogzilla, oppose them.

To put it another way: citizens of San Diego voted to curtail pensions. Public employees fought to overturn the democratic will of the people they purport to serve.

As this Calpensions article says, several court rulings have dented the case-law armor called “the California rule” that holds penions can’t be cut (unless replaced with a benefit of equal value).

Labor (and Hoggy) will appeal. So all the cases are headed to the California Supreme Court. I can’t call what that court will do. But anybody can predict what will happen if the court doesn’t uphold reform: municipalities, including quite possibly Stockton, will go bankrupt again, this time in droves; and pensions will be reformed in bankruptcy court.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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