County's pay giveaway cheats taxpayers
Article Last Updated:11/21/2006 06:56:38 PM PST
WHEN it comes to pay, public-employee unions have local governments over a barrel. The unions wield an inordinate amount of political power, cowing politicians into large annual raises without regard to financial conditions.
That's why the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a 15.5 percent pay raise over three years for 50,000 county workers represented by the Service Employees International Union, Local 660 - generally the lowest-paid workers.
But it doesn't explain why the supervisors last week extended the same-percentage deal to 12,000 nonunion workers, namely the better-paid managers, political appointees and upper-echelon bureaucrats who are not represented by unions.
It seems inexplicable that the supervisors would agree to an additional $341 million a year, adjusted upward in subsequent years in the face of rising costs, without the pressure applied by a collective-bargaining unit.
But the answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: The five supervisors are so secure in their virtual lifetime positions that they've stopped caring about the public.
They don't need to, after all. If they run out of revenue to cover the pay costs that are increasing each year, they can do what they usually do: cut services or try to squeeze taxpayers even more.
Meanwhile, they keep their staffers and their armies of bureaucrats fat and under their thumbs.
Officials claim county government can afford the deal because its budget grew to $18 billion this year because of rising property-tax receipts. Apparently they forget that while fortunes can rise fast for government, they can fall just as fast. Tying up more money for the long term because of short-term gains is a recipe for future financial disaster.
Already, the state of California and city of Los Angeles are anticipating less revenue, but county supervisors keep on spending as if there's no tomorrow.
November 24, 2006