Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Lodi town hall meeting focuses on pensions

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 12:00 am

Audience members and city officials were split as to whether they heard the answers they wanted at Monday’s town hall meeting with Lodi’s state lawmakers, especially when it came to the city’s pension obligations.

Some felt State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, and Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, offered a fresh perspective on reforms made by the state in 2012 and the pension problem faced by the city — which is expected to pay $16.9 million to fund its employee retirement benefits in 2020.

Others thought the two lawmakers who represent Lodi in the state Capitol were blowing political smoke, and took issue with Pan bringing a representative of a public employees union to discuss pensions.

Galgiani and Pan both said the reforms passed by state lawmakers in 2012 — which sets up a two tier-system with higher age requirements for public safety employees, caps annual benefits and prevents “double-dipping” — should help going forward. Pan said solid economic growth in cities like Lodi will help localities meet their unfunded pension liabilities going forward.

Pan then asked Terry Brennand, the senior government relations advocate for Service Employees International Union California, to speak to the audience of roughly 40 people on the issue.

Brennand said that, according to a 2010 study done by the University of Southern California and the California Public Employees Retirement System, the roughly 10,000 public retirees in San Joaquin County, whose pensions average $26,892 a year, pump $491 million into the local economy.

Rather than placing the blame for pension problems on public sector employees, Brennand said cities should work as partners with employees and their unions.

A murmur of disapproval went through the audience as Councilman Bob Johnson asked Brennand to make clear he worked for a union.

“To have a person who represents the largest municipal employees union in the state of California talk about pensions without having the opportunity for somebody from the other side to talk about the issue is totally inappropriate,” Johnson said.

Lodi resident Ed Miller said he was offended by Brennand’s presentation. He said public entities like the state and cities should have the same flexibility in offering retirement plans as private businesses, with a bulk of the responsibility for paying for their retirement placed on employees.

Brennand pointed out that he has been a pension advocate on both sides of the aisle, working in the past for San Joaquin County, the State Association of Retirement Systems and the County Treasurers and Taxpayers Association.

After the meeting, Pan brushed off criticism of his pension expert.

“Ultimately, how we’re going to solve the problem is having people work together,” Pan said. “Just remember that the public employees not only serve the city, they also live in the city. They’re interested in the city getting out of this and having the city solve the problem — not only as employees, but as residents of the city.”

That was the message Nancy Vinson, who represents city employees in American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 57 in contract negotiations with the city, wanted to hear.

“I really appreciate what Dr. Pan had to say,” Vinson said. “If you don’t support the people who have a paycheck, they can’t contribute to the economy.”

For his part, Nakanishi said he appreciated Brennand’s presentation, because it gave him another perspective.

The meeting, Nakanishi said, accomplished his goal of making clear to Galgiani and Pan the problems and concerns facing Lodi.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 224

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists