Who Runs the City of Santa Ana, Anyway?

With rare exceptions, most cities in California are ran by public sector unions. There is the appearance of democracy, with public employees accountable to elected officials, who in turn are accountable to voters, but appearances can be deceiving. Because political campaigns to attract voters require money, and public sector unions have money. Lots of money. In California alone, public sector unions collect and spend over $800 million dollars per year.

Through slick advertising and public relations campaigns, money buys votes, and voters elect politicians. Especially in California’s big cities, public sector unions have perfected the art. Ask any local California politician why they have agreed to support another tax increase to pay for the latest pay and benefit increase to which they have also agreed. If they’re honest, their answer will be swift and unequivocal: Because if I don’t do what they tell me to do, the unions will spend whatever it takes to defeat me in the next election.

Cecilia Iglesias, former councilwoman for the City of Santa Ana, just learned this lesson the hard way. She wasn’t just defeated in the next election, she was recalled in the middle of her term. According to the Orange County Register, the Santa Ana Police Officers Association spent $341,000 on the campaign to oust Iglesias, and the city had to spend an additional $710,000 to conduct the special election.

The reason for the recall effort will vary depending on who you ask. According to the unions who backed the […] Read More

Calculating Public Employee Benefit Overhead

A post published last October, “Public Employee Compensation” estimated the average state and local employee in California makes about $100K per year. This post attracted a great deal of comments and discussion, including identifying some minor errors in the calculations. These errors were offsetting, however, and the findings generated in that report are now distilled in this post. Not only the data compiled, but the methodology, may hopefully be of value to interested citizens who wish to independently assess how much their local public servants are actually costing the taxpayers in total compensation when the true value of their benefits are included.

Determining a credible estimate for the average base pay of California’s state and local employees is fairly straightforward. Here is the basis of those calculations – using only full-time workers this time: As of March 2008 there were 1,245,734 full-time workers employed by local government agencies, mostly cities and counties, in California, and their payroll for the month of March 2008 was 7,070,297,612 (ref. http://www2.census.gov/govs/apes/08locca.txt ). This equates to 5,652 per month, or 67,818 per year. During the same period there were 338,725 full-time workers employed by the state of California, and their payroll for the month of March 2008 was 2,002,723,495 (ref. http://www2.census.gov/govs/apes/08stca.txt ). This equates to 5,913 per month, or 70,950 per year. Using the state of California’s own payroll data, data that is 2.5 years old and therefore assumes zero increases to compensation, in aggregate, the state […] Read More

Dramatizing the Inequity

This is a hilarious video that is accurate and nicely summarizes our challenge – our state and local governments are going broke in order to pay not only for pensions that are 3-5x more generous than social security, but for overall compensation and benefits to public employees. To balance budgets, we don’t have to cut services or raise taxes, we just need to reduce the grossly over-market compensation paid to public employees. Warning – while clever and accurate, this video does contain foul language…


By the way, I have personally verified the compensation parameters referenced in this video, as summarized in this post: