News from the public employee front

As cities and states face increasing prospects of bankruptcy, who is looking out for the public good ?

Not teachers' unions - the bedrock of the Democratic party and a major beneficiary of the so-called stimulus bill that channeled hundreds of billions of dollars to cities and states so they could meet their payroll and pension obligations. The newly -elected Republican governor of New Jersey owns up to the problem and wants to meet it head on.

Governor Chris Christie:
"Make no mistake about it, pensions and benefits are the major driver of our spending increases at all levels of government -- state, county, municipal and school board. . . . We don't have that money -- you know it and I know it. What has been done to our citizens by offering a pension system we cannot afford and health benefits that are 41% more expensive than the average Fortune 500 company's costs is the truly unfair part of this equation" -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, describing the state's fiscal crisis by highlighting the case of one New Jersey teacher due to receive retirement benefits of $1.6 million after contributing only $62,000 into the retirement system.

This is what a leader does. He looks at the problem and deals with it head on. He does not look away from the problem or pass the buck. The buck (and that is a taxpayer buck) stops at his desk.

Conversely his predecessor, Jon Corzine, Democratic and Wall Street fat cat, was in bed with the public employees unions - literally and figuratively. He had a long-time affair with Carla Katz, president of the Communication Workers of America, a union that represented nearly half of all New Jersey state employees. The union endorsed him.

When Carla and Jon broke up, he rewarded her with millions of dollars. Apparently, that was not enough. A few years later, Katz was fired and expelled from the union for financial shenanigans involving the misuse of union funds. The sordid tale was symbolic of the incestuous relationship between many Democrats and public employee unions

This is not just a problem in New Jersey. The problem of sky-high salary and pension and health benefits flowing to members of public unions is an albatross around taxpayers' necks. But Governor Christie is not alone in being strong enough to want to stop the massive bleeding of the budget.

There is this Reaganesque tale:

A school superintendent in Rhode Island is trying to fix an abysmally bad school system.

Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.

The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. ... The school superintendent has responded to the union's stubbornness by firing every teacher and administrator at the school.

But wait! It gets better! From an email from someone who seems to know the district:

Teacher salaries at the high school average $72-78k. Apparently 50% of the students at the school are failing all of their classes, and the graduation rate is also under 50%. In an effort to turn the school around, the superintendent requested some changes be made whereby the school day would be slightly extended, teachers would perform some extra tutoring, etc.

Here is my nominee for Education Secretary : that superintendent who gave us all an education in that one act.

Reagan solidified his image as a strong leader very early in his Presidency (1981). His reputation did not hinge on any actions involving the Soviet Union ("Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall" was years in the future). Instead, the Air Traffic Controllers Union (PATCO) broke the law and went on strike, imperiling our nation's aviation system. After fair warning, Reagan fired them. He dealt with the problem by using supervisors and other replacements. The previous controllers were never to be hired again. Reagan was a leader.

There is potential here for new governors and politicians running for public office. There is a revolt brewing out there - in case one hasn't noticed. The people are sick of taxes and bloated budgets. The people are increasingly learning about the rotten deals that their politicians have signed with public employee unions. They know that their childrens' futures and their own retirements are being threatened by the obligation to pay these gold-plated pension and health benefits. They want them broken and then fixed.

I think the Rhode Island teachers' behavior was shameful. Aren't they public servants? Don't they supposedly serve the public? My son's junior high school requires all students to take an absurd course called "Common Good" that supposedly teaches them how to develop a devotion to the community.

Maybe the Rhode Island teachers need to take this remedial course. They have some time on their hands now.


As cities and states face increasing prospects of bankruptcy, who is looking out for the public good ?

Not teachers' unions - the bedrock of the Democratic party and a major beneficiary of the so-called stimulus bill that channeled hundreds of billions of dollars to cities and states so they could meet their payroll and pension obligations. The newly -elected Republican governor of New Jersey owns up to the problem and wants to meet it head on.

Governor Chris Christie:

"Make no mistake about it, pensions and benefits are the major driver of our spending increases at all levels of government -- state, county, municipal and school board. . . . We don't have that money -- you know it and I know it. What has been done to our citizens by offering a pension system we cannot afford and health benefits that are 41% more expensive than the average Fortune 500 company's costs is the truly unfair part of this equation" -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, describing the state's fiscal crisis by highlighting the case of one New Jersey teacher due to receive retirement benefits of $1.6 million after contributing only $62,000 into the retirement system.

This is what a leader does. He looks at the problem and deals with it head on. He does not look away from the problem or pass the buck. The buck (and that is a taxpayer buck) stops at his desk.

Conversely his predecessor, Jon Corzine, Democratic and Wall Street fat cat, was in bed with the public employees unions - literally and figuratively. He had a long-time affair with Carla Katz, president of the Communication Workers of America, a union that represented nearly half of all New Jersey state employees. The union endorsed him.

When Carla and Jon broke up, he rewarded her with millions of dollars. Apparently, that was not enough. A few years later, Katz was fired and expelled from the union for financial shenanigans involving the misuse of union funds. The sordid tale was symbolic of the incestuous relationship between many Democrats and public employee unions

This is not just a problem in New Jersey. The problem of sky-high salary and pension and health benefits flowing to members of public unions is an albatross around taxpayers' necks. But Governor Christie is not alone in being strong enough to want to stop the massive bleeding of the budget.

There is this Reaganesque tale:

A school superintendent in Rhode Island is trying to fix an abysmally bad school system.

Her plan calls for teachers at a local high school to work 25 minutes longer per day, each lunch with students once in a while, and help with tutoring. The teachers' union has refused to accept these apparently onerous demands.

The teachers at the high school make $70,000-$78,000, as compared to a median income in the town of $22,000. ... The school superintendent has responded to the union's stubbornness by firing every teacher and administrator at the school.

But wait! It gets better! From an email from someone who seems to know the district:

Teacher salaries at the high school average $72-78k. Apparently 50% of the students at the school are failing all of their classes, and the graduation rate is also under 50%. In an effort to turn the school around, the superintendent requested some changes be made whereby the school day would be slightly extended, teachers would perform some extra tutoring, etc.

Here is my nominee for Education Secretary : that superintendent who gave us all an education in that one act.

Reagan solidified his image as a strong leader very early in his Presidency (1981). His reputation did not hinge on any actions involving the Soviet Union ("Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall" was years in the future). Instead, the Air Traffic Controllers Union (PATCO) broke the law and went on strike, imperiling our nation's aviation system. After fair warning, Reagan fired them. He dealt with the problem by using supervisors and other replacements. The previous controllers were never to be hired again. Reagan was a leader.

There is potential here for new governors and politicians running for public office. There is a revolt brewing out there - in case one hasn't noticed. The people are sick of taxes and bloated budgets. The people are increasingly learning about the rotten deals that their politicians have signed with public employee unions. They know that their childrens' futures and their own retirements are being threatened by the obligation to pay these gold-plated pension and health benefits. They want them broken and then fixed.

I think the Rhode Island teachers' behavior was shameful. Aren't they public servants? Don't they supposedly serve the public? My son's junior high school requires all students to take an absurd course called "Common Good" that supposedly teaches them how to develop a devotion to the community.

Maybe the Rhode Island teachers need to take this remedial course. They have some time on their hands now.


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