…Kalifornia is reaping what it has sown. Now cities are fighting back, but is it too little, too late?
Via Meadia readers know that the most important political battle in America today isn’t the much-ballyhooed battle for the soul of the GOP. It is the blue civil war, pitting key elements of the Democratic coalition against one another as the old social model fails and the growth curve of rising blue model costs runs up against fiscal limits. Blue model policies, whatever their merits, don’t generate the revenue that can support blue model institutions and methods, and when those shortfalls appear, the coalition divides. It’s happened in Wisconsin, it’s happened in Indiana; it’s happened in Michigan and it is happening in California.
The Battle of San Diego is now in full swing. Last summer, voters there approved Prop. B, a ballot measure to reform a pension system whose cost had quintupled in 12 years, eating up revenue for other activities. As politicians struggled to pay off the pension obligations, libraries closed their doors and roads deteriorated. Voters had enough. No longer would they accept service cuts (or tax hikes) to pay to keep unionized public employees in the lifestyle to which they had grown accustomed.
The unions are striking back. A few weeks ago, the Public Employment Relations Board, a quasi-judicial administrative agency for public employees, ruled that “the city failed to negotiate in good faith with its public employee unions before Proposition B was placed on the ballot,” as a local news station reported. In other words, unions believe they should have veto power over which options are put before the voters. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was not impressed:
“We’re not gonna back down one iota, I can tell you that,” he said. “Because the people do have a right under direct democracy to bypass the city council, to bypass the state legislature, to bypass the labor unions, and to bypass PERB. This is a constitutional right, no different than the first amendment.”