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SLO, wake up to the attack on public employees 

San Luis Obispo

I applaud SLO police and firefighters for refusing to make nice over lunch with the Chamber of Commerce while Chamber leaders falsely attack them as villains responsible for SLO’s recession-induced financial woes (“Unions boycott Chamber awards,” Feb. 10).

Chamber leaders for two decades have been given an inside seat in city policy-making. This is unfair, unwise, and unwarranted. It distorts public policy, and it shortchanges residents. Government of, by, and for SLO residents has become Government by Chamber of Commerce (GbCoC).

The economic stabilization task force, dominated by design by Chamber leaders with an anti-public employee attitude, is the latest example. Its work, presented as the height of fiscal seriousness, was unserious. While giving vent to Chamber politics of resentment toward public employees, task force recommendations also contain Chamber goodies like eliminating the long-standing rule that new development must pay its own way. (Development costs the city a lot. If new development doesn’t pay its way, residents pay its way—through increased fees, taxes, and loss of city services. The rule is about fundamental fairness.) How does recommending something that could bankrupt the city constitute economic stabilization? Why would a city manager induce her task force to make such a recommendation? Because that’s GbCoC.

Like earlier GbCoC task forces, this one had non-residents deciding what the city should do, including Chip Visci of Pismo Beach, who emerged as press spokesman. While Visci, former Tribune publisher turned highly paid executive bureaucrat at Cal Poly, bashed allegedly overcompensated public employees with good pensions, the press ignored that’s what he is. This double standard is typical, and shows true motivation: to lash out at rank-and-file public employees who make relatively little while not questioning pay and benefits for the elite. (SLO anticipates a $3 million budget shortfall; $2 million of that could be erased by eliminating the pay and benefits of just nine highly paid individuals. This was not among the task force’s recommendations!)

The task force attack on public employees is hypocritical sound, fury, and posturing of a most poisonous sort. I hope the people of SLO wake up and see what’s happening.

-- Richard Schmidt - San Luis Obispo

-- Richard Schmidt - San Luis Obispo

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