City Officials should heed citizens concerns
The bankruptcy filed by the City of Detroit should be a warning that all city governments need to take heed of. Although there are many factors which have contributed to the financial nightmare of this once great American City, the straw which broke the bank was the city employee salaries and pension obligations. As one newscaster stated, the failure of Detroit is potentially the forerunner of things to come for many cities throughout the United States, and city governments need to pay attention to this universal problem.
Since 2007 I have urged the City Council and City Manager to stop hiring Civil Service employees because they are hired for the rest of their lives. Once a civil servant retires, he or she receives a lifetime pension of 80% to 90% of their last salaries. It’s a compounding problem, and doesn’t take a Rhoads Scholar to understand that these employees will eventually break the bank of any government agency. My suggestions were always countered with the statement that non-civil servant employees just aren’t as dedicated to the city as the civil servants are. That is totally a cop out of reality.
I spent most of my career at NASA/JPL. One of the greatest successes of JPL is the world wide Deep Space Network (DSN), which is comprised of all the tracking stations, ground computer and control systems, and the communication systems required to operate the DSN. The majority of the personnel required to operate and maintain the DSN are contractors. Their dedication to their positions many times exceeds that of the JPL/Cal Tech direct and NASA Civil Service employees. Of course, the Glendale City Council members and the City Manager never gave heed to the input they received from knowledgeable speakers who spoke at city council meetings.
All cities, including Glendale, cannot continue on the financial path dominated by employee salaries and pensions. They need to make it their priority to work together to change the current employee status from Civil Service to private social security based compensation. It is time for the Glendale City Council to listen to the voters who elected them. The City Manager needs to understand that the taxpayers and ratepayers pay his salary and the salaries of the city staff. It is past time for them to take heed of what the activists are saying at council meetings and budget sessions, not condemn them for expressing their concerns.