Viewpoint - August 25, 2010

Letter: Judge mulls Menlo's pension-reform case

There is plenty of push-back as California citizens try to rein in a huge budget problem.

In at least three cities, unions have tried to thwart municipal pension reform. In San Francisco and Menlo Park, they have filed lawsuits to keep pension reform off the November ballot. In Hermosa Beach, they filed a lawsuit contesting the right of the City Council to vote on pension reform. If neither the city legislators nor the city's citizens can decide pension issues, who does that leave? City staff and the city workers' union?

We agree with the Menlo Park's city attorney in his response brief on July 23:

"Among the most powerful rights Californians hold is the ability to direct legislation through initiative. With these first principles of California democracy in mind, the court must scrutinize petitioners' extraordinary request to remove from the ballot, prior to an election, an initiative ordinance addressing a matter of enormous concern — public employee pension benefits for future city employees."

Judge George Miram heard the arguments on Aug. 12 and we eagerly await his ruling on whether our effort to rein in Menlo Park city pensions can stay on the ballot in November.

Roy Thiele-Sardina and Henry Riggs, co-chairs, Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform


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