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Pension Meltdown
California's Centrist Dems Overwhelmed by the Left

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s promising ballot initiative to fix California’s municipal pension problems went down in flames this weekend, before it even had a chance to come up for a vote. The initiative would have amended the state constitution to allow cash-strapped municipalities to restructure pension promises.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that few think the initiative will make a comeback:

Many doubt the initiative will be any more viable in two years. Reed struggled to raise the millions of dollars needed to hire signature gatherers, while unions mounted an aggressive campaign to defeat it, even enlisting dozens of other California mayors to line up against it. […]

He blamed an unfavorable ballot summary from the attorney general and the upcoming mid-April deadline for qualifying a November initiative for the delay.

Reed still says he will push the measure again in 2016, but his difficulties this time and his diminished public profile once he leaves the San Jose Mayor’s office suggest that he may have just taken his best shot.

If so, that’s a shame. This bill was one of the few bright spots for California’s municipal pension situation and the growing list of cities teetering on the edge of bankruptcy due to unsustainable promises.

This defeat is also a reminder that, notwithstanding the election of more centrist Democrats like Chuck Reed and Governor Jerry Brown, California’s left-wing, pro-union Democrats are still a force to be reckoned with. California’s cities need pension reform more than most American cities, but reform faces an uphill battle.

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  • lukelea

    Off topic, but WRM and his staff might like this nuanced analysis of the situation in Ukraine:

    • Enemy Leopard

      For whatever reason, Motl has accepted the Russian narrative of the revolution in Kiev, which is that the new government is dominated by neo-Nazis and fascists. This seems to shape his largely anti-Western view of the situation. I don’t buy it. My impression is that the Russians are tapping into deep fears in the region of a fascist resurgence, fears with a sound historical basis, but which unfairly tar the majority of the revolutionaries with the legacy of long-distant choice to side with Hitler against Stalin.

  • Fat_Man

    Can we really call the public employee unions and their minions “left wing”. Aren’t they really defending entrenched privilege? Isn’t that the definition of “right wing”?

    • Bruce

      Your post is lame, but it is also lame for the original poster to call Jerry Brown a “centrist Dem.”

  • PKCasimir

    Is WRM now doing its hiring at Berkeley, the only place in the country where Jerry Brown is considered a “centrist Democrat?”

    • RonRonDoRon

      Among the CA Democrats, Brown is centrist. Strange and sad, but true.

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