Editorial: Salary, benefit issues now in council hands

We aren’t going to speculate on exactly why San Luis Obispo voters supported Measures A and B to such an overwhelming degree. But can we please put an end to accusations that this was some kind of “war” on public employees in general and public safety employees in particular?

This was about the economy; it was not a referendum on the value of our police and fire departments.

Yes, some misguided idiots used this as an excuse to vent their frustrations by directing obscene gestures at individual police officers and firefighters. But they do not speak for the vast majority of SLO residents who have made it clear, time and again, that public safety must be a top priority.

We believe it must remain a priority, but in this economic crisis, the city has to balance many competing needs: water and sewer services, road repairs, code enforcement, parks and recreation.

We believe the City Council, not an arbiter, is in the best position to do that.

Now, thanks to passage of Measures A and B, the buck will stop with the council. That’s the way it should be. The City Council is accountable to the voters; an arbiter is not.

It’s true that passage of Measures A and B won’t bring overnight changes. It’s now up to the city to enter into good-faith negotiations with its employee groups for some concessions that will help balance the budget, while ensuring that wages and benefits remain at a level that will continue to attract a high-caliber work force.

With passage of Measures A and B, the voters of San Luis Obispo have given the City Council the authority to decide those salary and benefit issues. We expect the council to use that power wisely.