Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan is pushing a ballot initiative that would decimate city workers’ pensions and replace them with risky 401(k) plans.
Riordan is aiming more at voters’ emotions than he is at solving a budget issue. It won’t solve the city’s budget problems. If Riordan’s initiative gets on the ballot, it will only make things worse.
I’ve worked as a tree trimmer for the City of L.A. for 15 years. When thinking about Riordan’s plan, I want people in L.A. to ask themselves these questions: How is the pension I earn during my years with the city going to take food off your table or take money out of your pocket? How is my pension going to keep you from finding work or paying your rent and bills?
The answer is simple: My pension does not hurt your quality of life.
So, what’s the motivation for Riordan’s attack on retirement?
Big business simply doesn’t want to pay their fair share of taxes. It’s no wonder that Riordan, one of the city’s wealthiest businessmen, wants to paint city workers as the cause of the city’s financial woes.
Mayor Villaraigosa hasn’t helped by offering numerous tax holidays for Los Angeles businesses during his terms in office. He just pushed another tax holiday through this year. That’s $50 million dollars that the city won’t collect in taxes.
We need to tell big business that they must do their part. It’s time to stop singing the same old song–that taxes drive business away. That’s simply not true. Los Angeles is a great city to run a profitable business in. People flock to the city every day and spend money at local businesses. The opportunities are endless.
We can’t let Richard Riordan fool people with an emotional ballot initiative that won’t put money back into their pockets. All it would do is let him and his rich friends keep more of their profits for themselves by avoiding the taxes they owe the city.
We need to make sure his plan doesn’t make it to the ballot. Don’t sign Riordan’s petition!
Art Sweatman is a City of Los Angeles tree surgeon. His post first appeared on SEIU Local 721′s site and republished here with permission.