If you love drama, there is no better place than the Glendale City Council meetings or budget study sessions. The shock that some council members expressed about the budget situation which may lead to layoffs (“Glendale faces mass layoffs,” May 2) could well have come from the Claude Rains character, Captain Renault, in the movie “Casablanca,” who said, “I am shocked, shocked, that gambling is going on in here!” Renault proceeds to take the winnings from his own gambling activities.
So council members are shocked at the ever increasing annual expenditures after they were presented numerous times each year with graphs of the near exponential growth in salaries, pensions and benefits that have steadily eroded the city's ability to maintain its infrastructure. But they continue to blame it all on the state of the economy.
Wage and benefit abuse in the past 10 years has led the city to this predicament. The guarantee council members offered employees on the investments made by the retirement system (CalPERS) added fuel to this debacle. Now council members give the public the false choice between lower services or more fee increases. Yet by guaranteeing CalPERS investments, lowering the retirement age, and increasing the retirement benefit percentage, they added hundreds of millions of dollars to Glendale's future obligations and tens of millions to the annual budget shortfall.
The facts are all there in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports. There are clear solutions, and one of them is a roll-back to the pension and benefit agreements under which most employees were hired. This alone will very likely wipe out current and future deficit.
Maybe council members can adapt another quote from Humphrey Bogart's character, Rick, in “Casablanca”: “I stick my neck out for nobody!”
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