Entries by Steven Greenhut

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 […]

How California’s Prisons Got So Bad

In the Assembly last week, legislators praised ethnic studies departments and had long-winded debates before voting to ban the trading of shark fins in California. But while state government becomes ever-more meddlesome in ever-expanding areas of private life, it’s increasingly clear that the Legislature and the state bureaucracies are incapable of handling even the most […]

Public Servants Lack Accountability

Union arguments in favor of their members’ lush pensions are falling by the wayside as the public examines the facts. For instance, union officials argue that the average public-sector pension benefit in California is “only” $30,000 a year, while neglecting to mention that the number, according to the state’s watchdog Little Hoover Commission, rises to […]

Unions Greet Facts With Emotionalism

Yet another report released this week confirms the enormous liabilities that California taxpayers must endure to pay for pensions for public employees. The study, released at a Pension Boot Camp for elected officials held in Citrus Heights by the reform group Californians for Fiscal Responsibility, echoed the points made by the Little Hoover Commission, Stanford […]

Public Servants Lack Accountability

Union arguments in favor of their members’ lush pensions are falling by the wayside as the public examines the facts. For instance, union officials argue that the average public-sector pension benefit in California is “only” $30,000 a year, while neglecting to mention that the number, according to the state’s watchdog Little Hoover Commission, rises to […]

Unions Ignore Pension Realities

There’s no getting away from the pension issue these days or from the fact that the state’s pension system is on the brink of disaster unless pensions for state and local workers are pared back dramatically. The only people in denial these days are the Brown administration and the state’s legislative leaders, as their response […]

Can California Mimic Wisconsin

If a real union reform battle can take place in Wisconsin and spread to other liberal rust-belt, union-dominated states, then it could perhaps happen in California —- although it might take some time, given the political dynamic here and the Golden State’s “follows its own drummer” ethic. Wisconsin, and Madison in particular, is a surprisingly […]

Californians Need to Suffer More!

People increasingly want answers for how California can solve its fiscal problems, but I rarely have good news to offer. Last week, I wrote about three Assembly Republicans who attended a “no more cuts” rally sponsored by the Service Employees International Union – those always-agitated, purple-shirted, bullhorn-toting activists who are ubiquitous around Sacramento. The three […]

California GOP Defectors Aid Unions

The three Assembly members who joined with Democrats at a union-sponsored rally to oppose government cuts to In-Home Supportive Services — Jim Silva of Huntington Beach, Brian Nestande of Palm Desert and Paul Cook of Yucca Valley — didn’t betray their conservative principles. They never had any such principles. But they did betray the GOP […]

Brown Refuses to Reform Pensions

Gov. Jerry Brown is coming into office with a lot of highly publicized and some praiseworthy activity, as he pushes ahead what he calls an honest budget, free from the usual gimmicks, and makes cuts in his office budget, cell phone use by state employees, redevelopment agencies and so forth. I praise him in my […]

Public Services vs. Public Pensions

When the governor’s pension adviser, David Crane, comments on a pension issue, it’s wise to listen to what he has to say. Crane has long been sounding the alarm about out-of-control public-sector pensions, and his testimony in the Senate regarding a failed pension reform effort captures the problem more succinctly than anything else I have […]