The Measure Q debate is officially now in full swing as opponents of the Measure put out a graphic which is misleading and off-topic as pensions have nothing to do with Measure Q. Instead, Measure Q is about ensuring public safety by keeping fire stations open.
As with Measure S, the Contra Costa Times Editorial Board, Contra Costa Taxpayers Association (CoCo tax), and Halfway to Concord have tweaked the message from a public safety debate to pensions. It’s a silly tactic that unfortunately is very effective.
For example, Kris Hunt who is the executive director of CoCo, likes to mumble her demand at Board of Supervisor Meetings and to anyone who will listen that they “would like to see meaningful pension reform implemented”. Others have spit out that very same talking point.
Okay great, what does that mean? It sounds clever, but it really says nothing of substance.
For the past year, a plan has been requested from Kris Hunt and the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association but to no avail. Vince Wells, President of Contra Costa Professional Firefighters Local 1230, has requested a plan on multiple occasions and has been snubbed by Kris Hunt. Supervisor Mary Piepho has requested a plan in a public meeting only to have Kris Hunt remain silent. Finally, in early July, Supervisor Federal Glover had an entertaining exchange with Kris Hunt about her not doing her homework of providing a plan per his request—she had no answer.
While opponents have been brazen with turning Measure Q into a pension debate, the County and firefighters union has been too polite in dealing with the naysayers–its time to hold them accountable for the lies and request a plan. If the media was playing fair, they would report no plan has been provided for the past year which began with Measure S.
After all, isn’t the media questioning Democrats “Are we better off today than we were four years ago”? This is similar.
Three simple questions is all that need to be asked:
- Define what “meaningful” pension reform is and the timeline it must occur in.
- What “fix” to pensions is acceptable to you?
- What plan would you accept to get behind Measure Q?
No longer should the Times Editorial Board, Contra Costa Taxpayers Association and Halfway to Concord be allowed to get away with such blanket statements that are destructive to public safety.
These three groups act as if the County, Chief Louder, and Local 1230 have done nothing to reign in retirement costs while kicking the can down the road—that is untrue and they are ignoring a document that shows changes have been made. Unfortunately, it takes time because of the state and IRS laws while the results are even longer as it will be decades before its benefits are seen. But they are working hard on it.
If the naysayers want attention, then I say give it to them by providing a platform so they can provide their plan and answer some questions. After all, people are not mind readers and will never know a starting point without a formal alternative plan being submitted.
To some, it could mean simply tweaking the 3@50 which is an industry standard. Others may believe it means cutting pensions in half. Others believe a third tier is needed. To some, they want all pensions eliminated. Does it mean going retroactive to those already retired who has been receiving a check?
You see, this is the problem that occurs when you let a bully control the message by making vague statements that are undefined. Instead of reaching voters, your time is now wasted explaining a non-issue on a ballot measure that you can never win.
Ultimately, even with negotiations with these anti-tax groups, it will never be enough as their next complaint will be service models.
The truth is, pension reform is the low hanging fruit of this debate so they run with it because they can get away with it thanks to pension envy. It’s the emotional trigger that gets people upset and will ultimately kill Measure Q for all the wrong reasons.
Look, I am all for a group being fiscal conservatives and anti-tax, I get it and understand it. But this is way beyond conservative behavior because these people have become the group of “no” at all cost which makes them “kook-like”. What I don’t speak is kook and its unfortunate Google doesn’t have a translator for it.
Just to prove a point, I say we give these reckless groups what they want and “Fix Pensions First”. Any pension reform they want on public safety. It can even begin tomorrow. They can have free reign. Congratulations, they have saved the day on paper as unfunded liability is now eliminated.
Reality kicks in because they have focused on the wrong problem. While on paper it looks nice, residents are stuck with 7-10 station closures as firefighters are laid off because there is still a revenue problem within the District. The ultimate result is reduced service and longer response times. That is reality, not numbers on paper that fluctuate with any economy!
Not being told by these rabble rousers is every study in the last ten years has said the District has a revenue problem which I am sure Vince Wells can provide you with a copy. Even the not so very Grand Jury has acknowledged the revenue problem
Remember, the elephant in the room is we are only in this mess because the economy tanked and revenue has decreased–you are actually paying less for the same service thanks to Prop 13. In good times, this so called “pension crisis” would be a non-issue and the opponents know this which is why Governor Browns pension reform plan is a knee-jerk reaction which will ultimately be detrimental in the future.
The time has come for the opponents to stop speaking in “kook” and let’s get some actual definitions on the table.
Let’s get Dan Borenstein to actually attend a meeting instead of writing from afar, let’s invite Kris Hunt, Billy Gram-Reefer, Wendy Lack and a dozen others and simple questions of them. They can all even have a turn providing their own answers!
Since they seek attention as the “party of no”, they can even invite the news media, talk radio, whatever they want! At least we can finally get a plan out of them because little does the public know that these people who talk a big game, but have no plan of their own.
Using logic, how can one proclaim they seek “meaningful pension reform” without the definition outlined in a plan? It’s illogical but Ms. Hunt and others have gotten away with this line for far too long that its never been questioned, but rather accepted by the media.
Fixing pensions first does nothing to solve the revenue problem we face today. It’s time for the opponents to come clean with their plan or be quiet and go away.