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My Sunday News-Press & Leader Column: Like it or not, change has arrived

You are the lucky ones and you probably don’t even know it. And if you do, you probably don’t appreciate it.

Hard times are here for cities across California, and they are going to get harder in the years ahead.

Costa
Mesa has sent pink slips to half its employees. San Jose is demanding
10% cuts in pay and benefits from its 11 employee unions, and that only
cleans up a third of its $105-million budget deficit.

The heart
of the problem is declining revenue and the soaring cost of pensions and
health care for city workers — more than a $1-billion bill for Los
Angeles next year, a quarter of its operating budget.

Burbank,
with an $8.7-million deficit in the coming fiscal year, and Glendale,
with a $15-million deficit, have their budget problems, too, but with a
difference.

Many cities in California are like families living
beyond their means, buying houses, cars and toys they can’t afford as if
there was no tomorrow, as if the nation’s economic meltdown would pass
and what was normal would soon return. Well, tomorrow has come and
normal isn’t coming back for a long, long time — maybe never.

In
interviews last week, both Burbank City Manager Mike Flad and Glendale
City Manager Jim Starbird described in similar terms how their cities
have been “living within their means,” have money in the bank with large
reserve funds, and are working “strategically” to solve their financial
problems — though there will be pain for city workers and residents
alike.

“We’re blessed because of where we are from an economic
standpoint, but things are never going back to the way it was,” said
Flad. “We need to rethink what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We
need to recalculate where we’re going to go, to redirect our
priorities.”

In Starbird’s words: “This is like what happened
after Proposition 13 — the public sector will never be the same. People
need to be aware the economy will never be the same as it was. They will
feel the loss of services, and the loss of quality in services, unless
we can reduce the cost of providing those services.”

(READ FULL STORY)

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4 Responses to My Sunday News-Press & Leader Column: Like it or not, change has arrived

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the interesting information.
    I date back to WWII. We prepared for the job
    we thought would keep us happy, useful and
    would give us a iving. But it was all our own
    responsibility. It worked this way, we earned
    money (modest) got no benefits except vacation
    time off with or without pay according to job
    agreement. Some were interested in management
    and probably started their own small businesses.
    They asssumed risk for being able to pay employees – otherwise went out of bussiness and
    the employees lost their jobs.
    Since the l950′s, more and more became government mandated and benefits began to accumulate. We may be paid less, but it will
    not be as expensive to survive because we can manage our own affairs. So I think that Americans
    will be a lot happier. After all, most of us
    are not millionaires now, are we?
    We shall survive. Let me see – the old saying
    was “keep on smiing”. Of course if we could stop
    big government from telling us what we must do, that is the solution right there. VOTE!

  2. Anonymous says:

    What refreshing points of view from two bureaucrats! (Or are they?). Clearly, these guys understand what’s going on and are prepared to take proactive steps to welcome in a different but saner future. Instead of reactive steps like Los Angeles does.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The big difference between LA and the three cities of Pasadena, Glendale and Burbank is that they have City Managers who can be fired and part-time Councilmembers who are not in public service to enrich themselves like LA politicians. LA politicians are here for one reason and one reason only; to become multi-millionares at the public expense. The other cities are governed by civic-minded individuals who have already made a living elsewhere and are not there to loot the public treasury. No point in comparing LA with any city other than Detroit.

  4. The New LA says:

    It should be no surprise. The model that is targetted for Los Angeles is that of Japanese cities. The use of subways and busses will be the norm. Small apartment living will be the norm. No more backyard livestyle, since residences will be postage sized. Coffee shops and the city parks will be recreational centers. That is their wish.
    But of course, Los Angeles doesn’t have the character of a Japanese city. Reality rarely sees the Liberal’s idealistic vision.

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