Does Anyone Cover the News in Sacramento?

Brian Calle
Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Register and Press-Enterprise. And Editor-in-Chief for CalWatchdog.com

California is perhaps the most significant state in the union both culturally and economically. One in every eight Americans lives here. In 2012, California’s GDP was $1.9 trillion — roughly the same size as that of Italy and Russia.  If we were a nation, we’d consistently be in the top-10 largest economies in the world. And […]

Read more

Costa Mesa takes a stand on the costs of a public workforce

Brian Calle
Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Register and Press-Enterprise. And Editor-in-Chief for CalWatchdog.com

Cross-posted at CityJournal.

The results of California’s 2010 midterm elections were tremendously discouraging for voters eager to rein in the influence of the state’s public-employee unions. While other states, like Wisconsin, elected political leaders willing to confront union power aggressively, Californians could only look on in frustration as pro-union politicians prevailed across the Golden State. But there is at least one beacon of hope in California: the Orange County city of Costa Mesa, which has charged ahead to address budget deficits by making massive cuts to its municipal workforce.

In March, Costa Mesa’s city council voted 4–1 to issue layoff notices to nearly half of the city’s workforce—more than 200 workers—and to outsource many city services, including street sweeping, payroll, printing, information technology, animal control, park maintenance, and some fire protection. These are eminently reasonable steps, given the city’s fiscal challenges. Costa Mesa faces a $3.3 million budget deficit in the 2011–12 fiscal year, pared down from a projected $5.1 million, and some of its leaders, including city councilman Jim Righeimer, worry that the budget situation could grow far worse in the future without immediate reforms. Righeimer, who campaigned on pension reform in 2010, says that while it’s unclear exactly how much money outsourcing will save the city, “it will be substantial.”

Read more

Lockyer, Others Deny Pension Crisis

Brian Calle
Opinion Editor for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Register and Press-Enterprise. And Editor-in-Chief for CalWatchdog.com

Cross posted at www.calwatchdog.com

Apparently the ideological left, public employment unions and some the state’s top financial officials still don’t get that we have a public employee unfunded pension liability crisis, or they are just in denial.

Late last month, I attended the Milken Institute’s annual “State of the State” conference a usually lively event featuring in depth discussion of the biggest challenges facing the state and sometimes-innovative ideas hosted by one of the state’s most recognizable left-of-center think tanks. Topics discussed ranged from the 2010 gubernatorial election to California innovation to the housing boom and subsequent collapse.

Read more