Entries by Steven Greenhut

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, […]

San Diego Public Employee Unions Go to Court to Fight Pension Initiative

In my last column, I documented how California’s pro-union Attorney General Kamala Harris provided an unfair and dishonest title and summary to a pair of pension reform initiatives submitted to her office, thus effectively killing the measures. Last week the unions tried—and almost succeeded—with an even nastier stunt designed to undermine democracy. In San Diego, […]

The Government Class Runs California

Years ago, after starting to report and editorialize on news events in an old factory city in Ohio, I was quickly dubbed a “negative” for pointing out the disastrous government spending, housing and tax policies embraced by city leaders — policies that were keeping a nice place wretched. Anyone who made similar criticisms was dismissed […]

How Government Unions Hijacked California’s Redistricting Reform

Over the summer, the website I edit, CalWatchdog, published a series of articles documenting the way that the political Left exploited the redistricting process in California to assure strong gains for the Democratic Party. The report included an exclusive interview with a redistricting commission member who alleged partisan behavior by his supposedly nonpartisan commission colleagues. […]

California Court Backs Government Union’s “Contract on California”

As the public employee pension and health care benefit crisis sweeps across the nation, some states are dealing seriously with these multibillion-dollar threats to public services and treasuries. And other states remain in deep denial. California, to no one’s surprise, is moving stridently in the wrong direction. The tiny state of Rhode Island, for instance, […]

The Politics of Public Sector Unions

To say that the unions have undue influence in the California Legislature, as many critics allege, is to understate the problem. The unions – and the public sector ones in particular – don’t just control the Legislature. They are the Legislature. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, previously worked as an attorney for a […]

San Francisco Political Establishment Fights Pension Reform

To outsiders, liberal San Francisco may seem preoccupied with leftist protesters occupying prime real estate in the Financial District or with debating proper restaurant etiquette for the city’s small but flagrant nudist population, or until recently, with arguing whether male circumcision should be outlawed. But the prospect of bankruptcy focuses the mind, even in a city so obsessed with leftist causes celebres. […]

Governor Brown Signs Last Minute Pro-Union Legislation

As the legislative session came to an end, some Capitol observers expressed a glimmer of hope that Gov. Jerry Brown would be the independent, reform-minded governor that he swore he would be when he ran for office. After the governor argued that not every problem deserves a government solution — when he vetoed a Nanny-ish […]

Brown’s Prison Fix Downplays Union Role

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed an executive order and legislation intended to deal with the problem of cell phones being smuggled into the state’s prisons, but he artfully ignores the main source of those contraband phones, the employees who guard the prisons, and the main political obstruction to reform — the union that represents most […]

Cal State Union Calls for Mobs and Bullying

The California State University Employees Union is encouraging its members to intimidate people who are gathering signatures for a so-called “Paycheck Protection Initiative” that would limit the ability of unions to use automatic payroll deductions to gain political contributions from their members. Whatever one’s views of this specific initiative, the tactics CSUEU is employing are […]

Police Union Protects 5 Out of 6 Police from Murder Charges

The tide is definitely turning in the way the public, and perhaps even district attorneys, view police officers who kill and abuse civilians and abuse their power. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has filed serious charges against two Fullerton police officers who were part of a gang of six officers who beat to death […]

Police Unions Protect Rogue Cops

A new cable TV police series, “Against The Wall,” is about a woman from a family of Chicago police officers who becomes a detective in the department’s Internal Affairs unit. This causes outrage among her police brothers and father, who view such internal oversight as treasonous. I can’t stomach the show, but the trailer is […]

Union Perks vs. Public Safety

Last year, one of my reporters and her adult son were walking in downtown Sacramento when a couple of young toughs tried grabbing her purse. She pulled back her purse, and the robbers lunged at the two of them, leaving the son’s face covered in blood. Despite a frantic call to 911, the Sacramento police […]