Friday, July 30, 2010
Ethics and Pensions
The most recent case-in-point was the "gaming" of the system by Councilmember Cristina Carrizosa to significantly increase her retirement once she leaves the city council. While it appears that she did nothing illegal, the ethics of this situation is certainly in question.
But even more importantly to me, is that the problems in Bell have been linked to citizens' not being aware of what was going wrong with their city. Here in Pomona, we have several blogs and some decent reporting that has stanched many of the grevious problems. A few years ago a few members of the city council decided that they should also get paid (separately) for being the redevelopment agency. Citizens found out about it and rose up and stopped it. I'm currently on the city's Charter Review Commission and we are looking at the possibility of creating an ethics oversight commission within the city and strengthening the ethics for the council, commissions, city management, police, candidates for office, and others under the perview of the charter, all to enhance citizen oversight to avoid the problems that Bell ran into.
However, I have an even more basic question. SHOULD PART-TIME COUNCILMEMBERS BE GETTING A PENSION AT ALL? Those in the private sector who work part-time usually don't get any benefits. This is the way that banks, grocery stores, and WalMart have been keeping their costs down for years. By hiring people and limiting their work hours to under 30 per week, they don't pay retirement, medical, and other benefits. Why are we so generous to our city council members?
Public service is not supposed to enrich those who are serving. To suggest that council members are doing such an extraordinary job as part-time employees negates the work of all of the others who work part time at little or no personal benefit (do you hear me unpaid commissioners?). Councilwoman Carrizosa stated that she "earned" the additional pension money. So that means that she worked harder than councilmembers Lantz, Atcheley, Saunders, Rodriquez, Soto, and Mayor Rothman? I undestand that their pension will be based on a $9600/year salary (the mayor twice that) and not what they got from their full-time jobs.
Again, this is not about what is legal, but about what is ETHICAL and FAIR.
I look forward to the comments on this item.
Remember, August 2nd the council will decide whether or not to put replacing Pomona's Police Department on the ballot. I will be out of town and can't attend. I'm fairly sure that the council knows where I stand on this issues as I've spoken on it in the past. If you haven't spoken out, do so!!!