Public unions continue to display a lack of basic math regarding city budget woes.

Alternatively they simply do not care and are willing to cannibalize newest union members for the benefit of those with the most seniority. Either way, and most likely some of each, cities have seen no recourse other than to layoff workers when contract negotiations stall.

Oakland, California is a prime example. Please consider Oakland talks break down; layoffs for 80 cops

Oakland laid off 80 police officers Tuesday after negotiations between city officials and union leaders failed on one simple matter: job security.

The police union demanded that the city guarantee that its officers would not be laid off for three years in exchange for giving up some pension benefits that would have eased the city’s budget problems.

City leaders, however, said it would have been irresponsible of them to agree to protect police jobs for more than one year because the city’s budget problems are likely to worsen.

“Every time you lay us off, there’s a gun to the citizen’s head as well,” said Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.

My Comment: Notice the fear-mongering by Sgt. Dom Arotzarena.

Also note that he is supposed to be a public servant. If what he said was true, then he places his own amazingly greedy interests ahead of serving the public.

[Sgt. Arotzarena] compared the slaying of four officers in the line of duty in March 2009 to Tuesday’s layoffs, saying the 80 were released “not by the hand of a gun, but by the hand of a pen.”

My Comment: Not only did the union’s actions endanger the the public, their union’s stance also resulted in the deaths of four fellow police offices, assuming you take Sgt. Arotzarena’s statements at face value.

The council counter-offered by saying it would agree to a one-year moratorium. But the union said no. The union also rejected an offer from the city for smaller pension contributions with the one-year moratorium.

The city has already eliminated the $42 million deficit it faced for the year that began July 1. Cuts included the police layoffs. The city now has a $407 million budget.

Next year, the deficit is projected at roughly $50 million.

With 75 percent of the budget devoted to police and fire and 10 percent to debt service, the city has no wiggle room, council members said.

My comment: Please read that again. 75 Percent of the city’s entire budget goes to police and fire workers and they want still more.

Officers who lost their jobs Tuesday said the union could not sacrifice without getting anything back in return.

“My idea of negotiating is giving and getting,” said Chris Peters, who was laid off Tuesday after having worked for nearly two years in North Oakland. “We’re giving, but we’re not getting anything back.”

My Comment: The union asked for the world and gave nothing. Also note that fools who just lost their job still support the union who tossed them to the dogs.

What is it about unions that they cannot understand simple math. Cities are broke. There is nothing more to give.

The article states the union is going to the voters to ask for tax increase. I suggest taxpayers ought to have an equal right to a vote on whether to outsource the entire police force to the local sheriff’s association to save money.

What Is The Correct Policy

The correct policy is the same as it has been for year: Tell the public unions to go to hell. Things have now come to such a crucial economic point that the city had no choice than to do that.

It even offered to suspend layoffs for a year. The union refused. If any citizens or officers lose their lives over this decision, the blood will be on the hands of Sgt. Dom Arotzarena and his ilk.

Looking ahead, the ultimate way out of this problem is an Oakland bankruptcy. There is absolutely no doubt the city is bankrupt, the only problem is admitting it.

Rather than increase city taxes or property taxes in a foolish attempt to sustain the unsustainable, Oakland should file for bankruptcy now which would send city pension benefits to the courts.

Indeed, my proposal for the city is to do just that. File bankruptcy. It’s going to happen anyway, so the sooner it happens the better. When it does happen, that blood too will be on the hands of the public unions and the corrupt politicians who supported them.

If Oakland wants to kick the can down the road, it can in the interim outsource the whole damn police force to the local sheriff’s association. However, that will not solve the problem with fireman or other unions, and it too just temporarily staves off the inevitable: bankruptcy.

To anyone living in Oakland. Please email this link http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/07/oakland-lays-off-80-police-officers-in.html to your city council member, with your comments whatever they are, noting if you would, whether or not you are in a public union.

Have your friends and neighbors do the same. It is time to insist on real reform and the only way to do that is to take personal responsibility whenever you can.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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