Riordan, chamber push city pension reform

cityhall3.jpgL.A.'s former mayor and Gary Toebben, CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, are proposing a ballot measure that would allow voters to determine pension policy for civilian employees. What they'd really like to see is a reduction in pension contributions made by the city. "Our message today is not about blame," Riordan said (via KPCC). "It is about all of us working together to find a solution to a pension system that, if unchanged, will spell disaster for the city of Los Angeles." Mayor Villaraigosa has his own pension proposal to scale back benefits and increase the retirement age, but it would only apply to newly hired civilian workers. That will do little to contain current costs. From the LAT:

"If we don't make these changes, we will have to continue making cuts to city services, and those cuts will make this city less livable than individuals and businesses will want it to be," Toebben said. "We will find our economic base reduced, and we will be in the middle of a vicious cycle" where declining business activity leads to even more cuts at City Hall. Riordan said he would support any plan that will "solve the problem," whether it is the mayor's or Toebben's. "We are going broke like every city in California," he said. "The mayor, the council and the unions. . . have to come up with the will to do something to avoid insolvency. I think you need something in the next couple of months."

As you might guess, the unions are not thrilled by any of this. From press release:

Responding to a proposal to destroy Los Angeles city worker retirement plans drafted by Richard Riordan and the Chamber of Commerce, SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover said: "Here you have a proposal being floated by one of the richest people in the City of Los Angeles and the Chamber of Commerce that would essentially gut retirement plans for middle-class city workers. It is an unfair and unwarranted attack. What Richard Riordan and the Chamber are proposing is not pension reform, it is pension evisceration."

Last year the SEIU did agree to raise its retirement fund contributions, but the city still faces a huge shortfall in pension obligations.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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