<b>Politicians and pensions</b>
EDITOR: It is to be expected that local mayors, city council members and county supervisors who rely on public employee union support for their re-elections would criticize any effort to reign in out-of-control public employee pensions. Inexcusable, however, is the misrepresentation of such efforts so as to unfairly skew public perception.
The Pension Reform Act being championed by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is neither "draconian" as Santa Rosa Mayor Scott Bartley is quoted as saying, nor is it an impediment to local labor negotiations as Healdsburg Vice Mayor Jim Wood suggests ("Effort to overhaul pensions draws fire," Friday).
Quite to the contrary, the initiative seeks to level the playing field in labor negotiations far too long tilted in favor of public employee unions.
Current state law is like a ratchet. It allows the future accrual of public employee pension benefits to be increased, but never reduced. Reed's initiative would correct this imbalance and restore to local governments the flexibility to negotiate future pension benefits just as is done for future compensation, health benefits and other conditions of employment.
Mind you, we're talking about the accrual of future benefits only. Benefits already earned are unaffected. Far from draconian, this initiative simply frees local governments to negotiate pension benefits without state interference.
Executive director, Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association
EDITOR: I think some people just don't get what a loss Andy Lopez is to the innocence of children. They never expected someone so sweet and kind to be taken away so violently. They are playing soldiers or cops as we did as kids. They are playing in empty lots and walking on city streets, which are their backyard. Most still believed that police protected and could shoot to disarm, not to kill.