This is Zen? Jerry Brown won’t fight for sole real achievement

This is Zen? Jerry Brown won’t fight for sole real achievement

Jan. 28, 2013

By Chris Reed

jerry.brown.peopleThe Jerry Brown ego trip is still running strong, nearly three months after he sold much of California and nearly all of the media on the idea that raising sales taxes on everyone and income taxes on the rich would make the Golden State a much healthier place.

But what’s absolutely perverse is that the governor, even as he wallows in his undeserved acclaim, isn’t fighting for his one genuine achievement. I know many of my fellow CalWatchdog writers weren’t that impressed with Brown’s pension reform. But he didn’t have to fight for a reform that won’t start paying dividends for decades. He could have ducked it like Illinois state leaders are ducking their pension crisis.

And one provision of Brown’s reform doesn’t get nearly enough credit: the requirement in coming years that all public employees pay half of pension costs. When that kicks in, we will see local governments up and down the state suddenly finding unions eager to make pensions much smaller so workers can have much more take-home pay.

So what is the governor allowing to happen? According to Dan Borenstein of the Contra Costa Times, Jerry Brown’s administration isn’t even fighting back against employee unions in three counties that are trying to overturn part of his reform law so as to preserve policies allowing grotesque pension spiking:

“Employees in three counties — Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced — have sued to block implementation of the new law. If they prevail, they will continue counting unused vacation time as income when computing pensions.

“An appellate decision in their favor could invalidate the law statewide, leaving a new legal loophole that would allow workers in 17 other counties, including Marin and San Mateo in the Bay Area, to start boosting pensions, too.

“Pensions are calculated based on years of service, retirement age and final salary. By increasing final salary, employees can fatten retirement pay. ..

“Employees sued the retirement systems that administer pensions in the three counties. But the systems say they are indifferent and will abide by whatever the courts decide.

“The retirement systems don’t ultimately pay the bill. The cost is passed on to taxpayer-supported local governments. Yet the three counties’ boards of supervisors have sat on the sidelines, as has Attorney General Kamala Harris, whose job includes defending state laws, and Gov. Brown, who vowed to end this sort of abuse.

If this is more of Jerry Brown’s super-sophisticated political Zen that we’re all supposed to be in awe of, I don’t see how. It looks like the Brown administration taking the path of least resistance.

As for Kamala Harris, she has proven over and over again that she represents California public employees, not Californians in general. Her refusal to defend this particular state law is a pathetic confirmation of her loyalties. People forget that she killed pension reform much more sweeping than Brown’s a year ago. But even Jerry’s version is too much for the public employee unions’ partner in thuggery and theft.

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