EDITOR: Pension costs are raising and causing mayhem with local government budgets. Many uninformed citizens seemingly blame the workers for the problem. However, the facts from the past are never reported. During the most of the 1980s and well into the '90s, pension fund balances were so high that nearly every public agency made no contributions to their local pension fund or to CalPERS. Everyone was over-funded.
However, for that entire period, the public employees were required to continue to pay into the funds. So, for about 15 years the employees contributed and the agencies never thought to put their share away for a rainy day. Statewide, billions of dollars were diverted and either spent or went to reducing taxes.
It is important for those who begrudge public employees their pensions to understand that raises and cost-of-living increases were given up to fund pensions. They were given up by those who were out in the storms making sure that roads would be open in the morning, that sewers didn't overflow, that police protection was in place, that fire trucks were manned and that you lived a safe and comfortable life. We earned our pensions. Get over it.
EDITOR: Nearly every week I drive on the Frank Trejo Memorial Interchange. I read about Deputy Trejo, about his job, his family and how respected he was by those who knew and worked with him at the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office; hence the memorial interchange in his honor.
Generally speaking, to memorialize someone implies that you are honoring that person's memory, commending them for doing something that is above and beyond what an ordinary person might do in the course of their life. In this case, Deputy Trejo gave his life for the citizens of Sonoma County.
And so, as I drive that weed-infested, overgrown, garbage-strewn interchange, where guardrails are broken and not ever repaired, where trees are broken, dead and dying, I think, "This is not a memorial, it is a neglected, likely forgotten, mess. In no way does it honor that man's sacrifice."