Entries by Steven Greenhut

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 […]

The (Union) Empire Strikes Back

Following big victories for public-pension reform in California, the union empire takes to the courts. The nation’s public-sector unions have become so emboldened by years of political victories, and so insulated from voter concerns, that they apparently never considered the possibility that voters, given a clear choice, would turn against them. Last Tuesday was as […]

Surly Unions Make Wisconsin the Badgering State

Before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became a recall target for his efforts to reform collective bargaining in his state, I was a guest on a Madison radio show discussing the influence of public-sector unions and the significance of the state’s unfunded pension liabilities. Instead of “Wisconsin Nice” – a euphemism for the polite, conflict-avoiding nature […]

California Legislature Votes to Allow Government Workers to Hide Property Ownership from Public Records

Democrats and Republicans in the California Legislature once again have broadcast this troubling fact: They are far more concerned about the ever-expanding demands of a relatively small group of public-sector union members than they are about the welfare of the citizens of our state. On May 17, the Assembly voted 68-0 to support the most […]

Occupy Movement Should Focus On Unionized Government

Occupy Wall Street protesters are reminiscent of writer R. Emmett Tyrrell’s criticism of radical feminists: They don’t know what they want, but they want it very badly. On May Day, the protesters tied up the streets of Oakland, San Francisco and elsewhere. They are mad as hell, and they are not going to take it […]

San Jose’s Pension Initiative will be a National Bellweather

San Jose union officials are celebrating a decision last week by the Sixth District Court of Appeals, which struck some city-drafted language from a June ballot measure designed to reduce pension benefits for newly hired city workers and require existing workers either to pay more for their current pension plan or switch to a lower-benefit […]

California’s Broke Cities and Counties Consider Bankruptcy Option

Economist Allan Meltzer once quipped that “Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin. It doesn’t work.” Americans have been witnessing this axiom on a broad scale, as government efforts to prop up industries, bail out the financial sector and protect select private businesses from failure have only caused a prolonged financial crisis. Without failure, […]