Truth about arbitration
One issue has been missing from the ongoing public discussion regarding Measure B to eliminate binding arbitration for public safety employees. In concept, each side has an equal chance of losing in an arbitration, so the public safety unions are risking a loss in arbitration just as much as the city.
However, the actual probability of one side prevailing over the other is affected by the negotiating strategies of both sides. If both sides stay rather close to either side of local norms, each side probably has an equal chance of winning or losing. A party that pushes its offer further from local norms than the other is more likely to lose in an arbitration.
This begs the question, if binding arbitration itself does not confer an advantage, why are the city’s leaders so adamant about eliminating it? Perhaps the answer lies in the history of labor negotiations prior to voter approval of binding arbitration. The citizens of San Luis Obispo approved it for a reason. Perhaps voters should look back at local newspaper articles from the years before binding arbitration was approved to get a sense of what will really happen if it is repealed.
Greg Allen Barker
San Luis Obispo
Praying for our vets
As an 86-year-old combat veteran from World War II and the Korean War, my heart goes out to the veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Several months ago, I met a 21-year-old veteran who told me he was dishonorably discharged because he refused a fourth rotation to Afghanistan. I asked him why, and he said, “My best buddy died in my arms in Afghanistan and told me to get out while I was still alive. His death crushed me. I was a good soldier. I made sergeant in less than three years, but I knew if I went back, I would die.”
The Army had become his home and his family before the death of his friend, and now he lost all of that. I doubted he would ever make a successful adjustment to civilian life. I feared he would commit suicide. When I offered to help, he said, “No, I’ll tough it out myself.”
Depression and loss of self-respect are serious causes for suicide. Even though our veterans know we are proud of them for their sacrifices, our pride is often lost in their sense of despair and helplessness.
I’m praying for that man, and hope he finds someone or some place where he’ll get the help he needs.
San Luis Obispo
The top 2 percent
The current iteration of the Republican/tea party fringe leadership has truly sealed our fate as a nation.
Ignorance and blind obstinacy has created chaos in not only our country’s finances, but worldwide. The wealthiest 2 percent of our citizens and major corporations are deified by the GOP much to the detriment of 98 percent of Americans. Many corporations have off-shored/outsourced our jobs while CEOs are collecting multimillion dollar salaries. Jobs won’t return until we stop allowing this deleterious trend with the resultant trade imbalance.
The Republican plans to cut Social Security, Medicare and other services while destroying the middle class are un-American. These programs have made us a great nation.
The GOP, including local corporate puppet Kevin McCarthy, is damaging generations of Americans’ work efforts. Backed by “Murdochian” inaccurate media clips, tinged with racist affectations, they’ve created distrust and confusion as to how we restore our position in the world.
The top 2 percent don’t care if Social Security and Medicare are solvent or what health insurance premiums cost. They have bought Republicans and feel safe from the horrors of fair taxation. They’ll benefit from our infrastructure while the GOP disloyalty to the “bottom 98 percent” continues.
Turn in your ballots
The deadline of Aug. 30 for the city of San Luis Obispo to receive ballots for Measures A and B is fast approaching. If you haven’t already returned your ballot, please do so right away. This is a very important election, and the City Council needs our guidance before the scheduled September start of negotiations with the city employee bargaining units for the next contract period.
In 2006, the voters of San Luis Obispo wisely approved Measure Y, which has produced much needed additional revenue for the city. Now, we need also to support our City Council’s intention to bring under long-term control the sky-rocketing employee compensation costs, including pensions. Approval of Measures A and B won’t produce overnight results, because any changes are still subject to negotiation with the employee groups. But the final decisions will be the responsibility of our City Council members who are accountable to us, the voters. Not again should we risk having an excessively generous outcome imposed by an outside arbitrator. Nor should implementation of any decreased pension benefits for future employees be slowed by the requirement of an election.
Please vote yes on Measure A and B.
San Luis Obispo
Preserve public safety
The opponents of Measures A and B want you to believe that if you vote “yes,” you may not have police officers or fire fighters available when you have an emergency. The opposite is true.
If we do not return control of financial matters to our City Council, five years from now, pension costs alone will consume $1 in every $5 the city spends. That’s right, 20 percent of the budget will pay people who are no longer providing services for the taxpayers.
The 2008 binding arbitration award resulted in a 30 percent cost of living increase from 2006-2009. San Luis Obispo police officers also received “step-in-grade” increases of up to 22 percent during that time. When combined, San Luis Obispo police officers received total pay increases of 57 percent during those four years. Inflation was 11 percent. What was your raise in that time frame?
If Measures A and B fail, the City Council will have few budget balancing options available. If the city must pay twice the market rate for police and fire, they will be forced to staff with half the workforce. If you really want to preserve public safety, you must vote yes on Measures A and B.
Fred S. Vernacchia
San Luis Obispo
Good-bye, good luck
My wife and I will be retiring in 2012. We have been planning our retirement for some time.
Enter our children, both of voting age. Our 18-year-old son wants to know why Americans are so ignorant and arrogant after witnessing our elected officials implode on this budget crisis. Our daughter doesn’t think the two-party system is fair and thinks that the citizens deserve better than we are getting. We all agreed that the political corruption, the economic oppression and the social injustices are not going to go away.
Democracy, capitalism and the distribution of wealth have morphed into a perverse creature that our family doesn’t want to be a part of. This country’s foundation and structure are cracked, crumbling.
We will be moving to a country where we will be free from government chains and health costs are minimal. We wish you all well. Good luck.
In her Aug. 11 letter, Pat Moore concludes that socialism will be the downfall of our country, and the Democrats will be to blame. There is absolutely no evidence in her letter to support her claim that Democrats are socialist.
China is socialist; the Soviet Union was socialist. The governments of these two countries controlled most of the property and economic interests. The United States isn’t even close; Europe by measure is closer.
Let us remember that both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were unapologetic capitalists, both in private life and elected life. Let us remember the collapse of Wall Street in 1989 and the collapse of the housing market in 2008. This is what happens when government doesn’t check business, because with all of the potential good capitalism has to offer, greed is at the bottom, Republican greed.
San Luis Obispo
A powerful group
These days, we appear to be in a dismal state of denial. All that was good, all that was proper, all that was considered to be our true heritage has slipped away, leaving a chaotic series of bitterly contested procedures.
There has evolved a very strong conservative organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, which advocates downsizing government, removing regulations on corporations and privatizing education and health care.
These articles were inspired by Milton Friedman, from the University of Chicago, who began a process of free trade and strong support for American industries in foreign countries. This latter program was aided and abetted by local thugs put in place in countries of interest, primarily in Latin America, during the ‘60s and ‘70s.
ALEC is now the basis for many of the powerful right-wing programs that are dominating the media. The media, itself, in many cases is under the control of forceful groups advocating ALEC principles. It seems that we have disposed of Dr. Jekyll and now Mr. Hyde rules, or is attempting to.
W. R. Cole
On Aug. 11, there were several Letters to the Editor, and all of them except one were letters of thanks or letters attempting to clarify issues.
I loved the letter that suggested to ban the “blame game,” referring to our country’s credit rating.
One letter that I found totally offensive was a name-calling letter claiming that Democrats strongly favor socialism. I am a Democrat who does not favor socialism.
I would suggest that the writer of that name-calling letter do some online research and look up the history of our political parties. We have a long and complicated history that does not lend itself to over-simplification.
In the future, I will ignore letters that employ name-calling, make blatant accusations or attempt polarization.
While I don’t like generalizations, it has been said that as a nation, we have become extreme, polarized and, frankly, rather nasty at times. We seem to have forgotten that in this great nation, we are all Americans.
Let us put debate on a higher level and avoid name calling and accusations.
Tea party philosophy
The tea party’s philosophy can be summed up in three words: Me! Me! Me!
Oops. It doesn’t seem to work, does it?