Entries by Steven Greenhut

California’s Public Sector Union Pension Secrecy Lobby

Last month, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) announced that it would post the names and pension amounts of its retirees. But after the Retired Public Employees Association of California (RPEA) objected, CalPERS quickly pulled back from this pledge. RPEA leaders made what amounted to a novel and troubling argument about why vital public […]

Union Friendly National Security Bureaucrat Picked to Head University of California

With its 10 campuses, nearly 200,000 staff, and $20 billion annual budget, the University of California system is emblematic of the state government that pays a portion of its bills – enormous, unruly, overly expensive, steeped in politics, dominated by unions and other special-interest groups, and plagued with controversy. California voters in 2010 turned the […]

California Pension Reformers Plan New State Ballot Initiative

A statewide constitutional initiative planned for 2014 would tackle the biggest obstacle to meaningful pension reform: vested benefits. Right now, with certain exceptions, California municipalities may not reduce pension benefits for current employees—unlike in the private sector, where employers can change the terms of employees’ current pension plans, making them less generous. The courts have […]

The Bipartisan Potential of Civil Libertarians

The Obama administration has gotten itself into a fix between its contradictory stories about the Benghazi incident, reports of the IRS targeting conservative groups, and the Justice Department’s grabbing of phone records from AP reporters. There are few things more fun to watch than arrogant political leaders — folks who spend their lives bossing everyone […]

Does Police Union Power Erode Accountability?

The horrific Boston bombings already have led to calls for more security cameras and more police officers, with some Democrats absurdly using this tragedy as a reason to stop the slight sequester-mandated cuts in federal spending growth. Never mind that police spending primarily is a local matter. The bigger questions that Americans have rarely asked, […]

To the Public Sector Unions, California is now the model for America

Ever since California’s voters approved the Prop. 30 sales-and income-tax increase on the November ballot, liberal commentators have been gloating about the resurgence of the Golden State after many years of predicted doom and gloom. Their evidence: Higher taxes seem to have cleared up the state’s budget deficits. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote recently, […]

Union Greed Drives California to Bankruptcy

Few non-local people pay much attention to the goings-on in Stockton, a hard-pressed Gold-Rush-era industrial city of 300,000 that sits in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley at the eastern edge of the California Delta. But bondholders, taxpayers and government officials throughout the country will be listening to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein’s expected ruling […]

California A Model For Other States?

California’s modern-day progressive Democrats keep crowing about the huge success they’ve had in taming the state’s budget deficit, thanks to Proposition 30’s tax increases and other “reforms,” and now are championing the Jerry Brown model as a blueprint for the nation. Is that realistic? It’s one thing that other states have to deal with our […]

Public Borrowing for Union Benefits: Brown Still Not Scaling Wall of Debt

Gov. Jerry Brown continues to pose as an iconoclast who is willing to make the tough choices necessary to keep California afloat, but his new budget is more evidence that he remains the cat’s-paw for the state’s public-sector unions. “I want to advance the progressive agenda,” Brown said at the news conference unveiling his supposedly […]

Fullerton Police Union Intimidates Reform Candidates

Many people were outraged this summer after a private investigator, with ties to a law firm that represents 120 police unions in California, made an apparently false police report that a Costa Mesa councilman stumbled out of a bar, appearing drunk, and was weaving all over the road as he drove home. When police showed […]

Another Union Giveaway Almost Becomes Law

If California voters grant the state government the billions in higher taxes in Proposition 30 that Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats have been demanding, those same officials might be expected to squander the money by shoveling even more benefits to already well-compensated government workers. Evidence for such an expectation is a scheme to enrich […]

California Voters Still Embrace Unionized Government

California residents are depressed about the economy and see little hope for change in the near future, yet they seem more reluctant than ever to change the current high-tax, union-dominated political course that has led to the struggling economy. As the Field Poll revealed in July, “Californians have had an extremely gloomy view of the […]

How Union Power Corrupts Police Departments

City officials across California typically spare police officers from even modest reductions in the pay and pension packages that are a leading cause of municipal budget problems, even when the alternatives are reduced public services or even municipal bankruptcy. The common explanation is that politicians are afraid of the cop unions’ political muscle. That is […]

Can Californians Learn from Progressive Wisconsin and Confront Government Unions?

During recent travels to Madison and Milwaukee for some research about reform-minded Gov. Scott Walker’s survival of a union-backed recall in June, I found little residual anger among the friendly folks there, despite the campaign’s seemingly endless pitched political battles that divided families and led to angry water-cooler discussions. Perhaps the central issue – Walker’s […]

Bankruptcy Won’t Help Cities Unless Courts Permit Reduced Pension Benefits

Municipal bonds have long been among the safest investments, but a coming wave of municipal bankruptcies in California – and the disturbing way one of those cities is stiffing its bondholders – could change perceptions about the wisdom of lending money to cities. The struggling port city of Stockton has declared bankruptcy after a spending […]

Unions: It’s Just Pension Envy

Rhode Island’s Democratic state treasurer, Gina Raimondo, is fond of saying that pension reform is about math, not politics. Other blue-state politicians, ranging from New York governor Andrew Cuomo to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, have moved toward fixing unsustainable pensions. But California’s top statewide political leaders have mostly shrugged at the problems caused by excessive […]

The Bankruptcy Dominoes Begin to Fall in California

First, Vallejo, in 2008. Next, Stockton, then Mammoth Lakes and, now, San Bernardino and soon, perhaps, Compton. As Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach told Bloomberg News, the bankruptcy dominoes are starting to fall. One California city after another – following a decade-long spree of ramping up public-employee pay and pension benefits, as well as redevelopment […]

The Bankruptcy Tsunami

First Vallejo, then Stockton, then Mammoth Lakes and now San Bernardino.  As Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach told Bloomberg News, the bankruptcy dominoes are starting to fall. One California city after another — following a decade-long spree of ramping up public-employee pay and pension benefits, as well as redevelopment debt — are becoming insolvent. Not […]

Fairness prevails in union-dues ruling

For people who truly are interested in a just and fair society, there’s one easy test for sorting through some seemingly complex issues: Turn the tables. For instance, while considering a controversial law affecting a particular group, it’s best to t getting back with an ex> hink about how fair it would seem if that […]

U.S. Supreme Court Rebukes Union Totalitarianism

For people who truly are interested in a just and fair society, there’s one easy way to sort through some seemingly complex issues: turn the tables. If, for instance, one is debating a controversial law affecting a particular group, it’s best to think about how fair it would seem if that law were applied in […]