Sunday Commentary: Yes Politicians Can Be Bought in Davis

One of the arguments I hear for the $100 campaign finance limit (now increased to $150 for individuals) is that, as Bob Dunning, who became just the latest adherent to the notion articulated, “with a $150 donation limit, it’s pretty hard for a donor to ‘buy’ a politician in this town.”

The problem with the argument is that it ignores very recent history to the contrary.  It also ignores the impact of collective contributions.  To put it simply, he may or may not be correct that $100 or $150 will not “buy” a politician, but it ignores the potential cumulative impact of a bunch of donors on public policy, to say nothing of the impact of a bunch of donors bundling their contribution together to maximize its impact.

While the focus here is whether or not one should take developer money, the biggest recent impact has come not at the hands of developers, whose actions are heavily constrained by Measure R and other growth control and environmental as well as affordable housing policies in the city, but rather at the hands of a public employee group which was able to – through the use of both direct contributions and independent expenditures – control the mechanisms of city hall itself for the better part of the decade.

Indeed, I will argue that by artificially limiting contributions to $100 up until this election, we actually facilitated this type of abuse – and conditioned the possibility that a group of 40 firefighters could collectively come together to create disproportionate influence on the city.

What happened, as the Vanguard documents, is that from 2002 to 2008, the firefighters’ union bundled their donations.  Which means, instead of the union collectively giving each candidate that they chose a $100 donation, just as you and I might, they had each of their members throw $100 checks into the kitty.  They would then deliver not one $100-contribution, but rather 30 to 40 of them,
which meant they were in effect as a block donating $3500 to $4000 – a substantial percentage of the campaign contributions.

And, on top of it, they also implemented an Independent Expenditure Campaign, where the firefighters would not only print the literature, but deliver it to the voters, again utilizing their organization and numbers.

Therefore, in the 2008 campaign in which concerns about pensions and financing started to dominate the electorate, the firefighters maintained a majority on council by donating to their three preferred candidates $12,100 in total.  They also added an $8245 independent expenditure, which mean that they contributed about $20,000 to make sure their preferred candidates won.

And it worked.  They won two of the three seats up for election that year and maintained a narrow control over city council – which, as we will discuss shortly, was critical on some key issues.

Moreover, from 2002 to 2008, seven of their nine endorsed candidates won.  During that time, only Sue Greenwald in 2008 and Lamar Heystek in 2006 won election without the support of the firefighters’ union.

Did this matter?

From 2000 to 2008, the firefighters’ union contributed more than $41,000 to their preferred candidates as opposed to just $8900 (mainly in 2006) by their police officer counterparts.  Even now, the salaries for firefighters in Davis are about 25 percent higher than salaries for police.  Firefighters have traditionally been near the top in the region in compensation in Davis while the salaries of police officers are near the bottom.

The biggest period of time was the 2005 MOU.  In 2004, the firefighters delivered a whopping $11,000 in contributions to three candidates: Stephen Souza, Don Saylor and Sue Greenwald.  They all won.  And, coupled with Ruth Asmundson and Ted Puntillo, the entire council from 2004 to 2006 was comprised of people supported by the firefighters.

The next year, the council – just a year after voters supported a half-cent sales tax – used that money to deliver the biggest pay increases in city history.  Truth be told, everyone in the city received at least a 15 percent increase over a three- to four-year-period.  But the firefighters cleaned up.  From 2005 to 2009 they received a 36 percent pay increase.  The police, on the other hand, received less than 20 percent.

The firefighters had contributed over $10,000 in bundled contributions and the police gave virtually nothing.

The other key vote we point to occurred in December 2010.  By this point, the council was split, with Sue Greenwald in 2008 opposed by the firefighters as she advocated for fiscal reform, and Lamar Heystek as well.

In June 2008, just after the election which delivered strong victories for Don Saylor and Stephen Souza backed by the firefighters, the Grand Jury came out with a report that firefighters were drinking and sleeping it off in the fire station, but more critically outlining a hostile work environment and retaliation against union dissent.

The city then hired Police Ombudsman Bob Aaronson to look further into allegations and the report was completed by December 2008.

Firefighters-backed council members Don Saylor, Stephen Souza and Ruth Asmundson voted not to read the full report, but rather allow the city manager at the time, Bill Emlen, to summarize it for the council and public.

On the night of December 9, 2008, both councilmembers Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek were adamant about seeing the full version.

“I’d like to get a council consensus that we have access to all the information. The way our form of government works is that we’re responsible when we’re elected,” Councilmember Greenwald said.  “Ultimately, the buck stops with us. We’re responsible through you, but we can’t evaluate how well you’re doing your job with personnel if we don’t have access to all the information.”

She added, “I just think we should as a matter of principle, as a matter of procedure. It’s a matter of accountability in government.”

Councilmember Heystek requested of City Attorney Harriet Steiner that she explain any legal grounds for withholding of information from the council in writing.

“I do agree with Councilmember Greenwald, it is important for us to see the work product of the Ombudsman, this is the first major test of our Ombudsman and we’ve paid over $35,000 I believe for this work product, and I believe I deserve to see, as a councilmember, the contents,” he said.

He added, “But if there is some legal grounds by which we cannot view this information or not be privy to the report that was prepared at our behest, I would like to see a justification of that in writing. I really believe that as a councilmember I need to know why it is that information is being withheld from me, and in writing.”

However, both Mayor Pro Tem Don Saylor and Councilmember Stephen Souza disagreed.

Mayor Pro Tem Saylor said, “We actually employ those two [pointing at Harriet Steiner and Bill Emlen]. Those are the two we employ.

“In terms of policy issues, in terms of behavioral issues that are addressed in a grand jury report, we should hear from the city manager and hear his report. How he has gathered information to arrive at the conclusions and findings that he is going to be presenting to us is his responsibility,” he continued.

He added, “Just so that’s clear, I’m interested in hearing from the city manager what his conclusions are based on whatever he has done to arrive at them. I don’t need to know what exactly was stated by any person, at every point in time.”

Councilmember Stephen Souza would add, “I don’t need all 50 pages, I just don’t.

“I don’t need to have the ‘he said, she said’ full story. I don’t. I am not in charge of personnel, except for as Councilman Saylor said, we are in charge of two personnel, that’s who we’re in charge of, we hire and fire them,” he added. “That is our main task from a personnel standpoint. When it comes to this matter, I want to know from our ombudsman, through our city manager, how he arrived at his conclusions, and give me the pertinent information so I can come to my conclusions about it.”

While a vote was never formally taken, Don Saylor, Stephen Souza and Ruth Asmundson all weighed in against the council reading the report, and the council would not read it until the Vanguard’s multiple requests and lawsuits finally cleared the way for it five years later in 2013.

The idea that money cannot buy politicians in Davis has been historically unfounded.  I agree that an individual $100 or $150 donation is unlikely to provide much influence for a politician, but the limitations themselves make it actually and ironically easier to organize and bundle influence than if people could give as they can in other races, upwards of $1000 or even $5000.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith O

    Firemen going door to door politicking for council members, that’s something I remember from when I first moved here that struck me as odd.  I had never seen that where I used to live and discovered that small town politics were quite different.  I soon learned why the firemen were so hard at work for their preferred candidates.

  2. Sharla C.

    Sue Greenwald was endorsed and benefited from the donations and political activism by the fire fighters union in her first election, maybe 2nd.

    1. David Greenwald

      She was definitely endorsed in 2004 as the firefighters attempted to (successfully) take out Harrington.  But they regretted doing by 2008.

  3. Ken A

    This Sunday:

    Sunday Commentary: Yes Politicians Can Be Bought in Davis

    Next Sunday:

    Sunday Commentary: Yes The Sky is Blue in Davis

    I think we all know the system and it is the same in every city not just Davis.  My firefighter friends host parties in their homes every election where fifty friends get to “meet the candidate” (and give him a check).  These same firefighters (who have 20 days off every month) spend a LOT of time (in uniform looking good) at tables in front of grocery stores telling Mom’s about the candidates that “don’t care about the safety of their children” (aka are not in favor of firefighter pay raises).  My cousin does the the same thing but focused on soccer, he hosts parties and raises money for candidates that care about maintaining the soccer fields in town and since he refs for not only youth groups but groups that speak spanish he gets white “soccer mom’s” to volunteer to help “table” for candidates he likes at one store and he has a spanish speaking soccer mom (or spanish speaking guy in an adult league) letting people know who to vote for and how critical it is to vote if they are going to get money to improve the fields (or get new nets)…

  4. Tia Will

    I believe that Ken’s comment is true as written. I also believe that there is a significant difference between a city employee group, or group having major business before the city ( such as developers) utilizing these tactics, and groups of loosely affiliated citizens with common non-monetary interests utilizing the same tactics.

    1. John Hobbs

      ” I also believe that there is a significant difference between a city employee group, or group having major business before the city ( such as developers) utilizing these tactics, and groups of loosely affiliated citizens with common non-monetary interests utilizing the same tactics.”

      So long as you frame it with nonsense. “groups of loosely affiliated citizens with common non-monetary interests” don’t exist in reality. NAGs most definitely have MONETARY INTERESTS.

      You, dear doctor have MONETARY INTERESTS, whether you acknowledge their importance or not. The solution, and one I heartily endorse is public funding for campaigns, limited to very small dollar amounts. I would also like to see campaigning restricted to a few days before the election.

      I am only narrowly optimistic that we will continue to hold democratic elections in this country.

      1. Tia Will

        Dear John,

        I do not, and have never implied that everyone does not have monetary interests, myself included.  However, for some, there maybe overriding familial, social, religious, environmental or other interests that are more important to them than is money. Since we were talking about monetary contributions primarily in this thread, I thought it relevant to mention that there can be a difference between monetary and other interests.

        And, I don’t know what a NAG is.

        1. Howard P

          and groups of loosely affiliated citizens with common non-monetary interests utilizing the same tactics.”

          I do not, and have never implied that everyone does not have monetary interests,

          Consistency alert…

  5. Howard P

    Given the amount of money donate, to elections, given the compensation given to CC members, given the reporting requirements for donations and campaign expenditures, given the annual  requirements for CC financial disclosures (Form 700)… etc.  …

    Just not buying a “graft and corruption” thing… feels more like grist for a Sunday blog article… worst could be that it provides “ear time” to inform… at “decision time”, just don’t see it, unless the CC member is of very weak character… and could say the same for those who stick their finger in the wind, and listen/act on solely comments made at “Public Comment”/or ‘letters to the editor’…

        1. David Greenwald

          I don’t view it as illegal, but I do think it was detrimental to the community and more to the point enabled by the very campaign finance laws that attempted to avoid that kind of influence.

        2. Howard P


          “Detrimental to the community” could also be applied to folk who stand up @ public comment, and perhaps advocate for super strict housing growth limits. (just one example)

          Like no folk have contributed financially, and or campaigning for as well, to those CC candidates they felt would vote “no” on new housing (one example) … yeah, right… that has never happened…

          All a matter of perspective…

  6. Tia Will

    Howard & David

    I suppose if you see “influence” as synonymous with “graft or corruption” you might make a case. I personally see that as a real stretch. The former can be as subtle as whom you choose to have a celebratory beer with, the latter implies quid pro quo, at least in my mind.

    1. Howard P

      Key word you lacked was “undue”… did you and others in your neighborhood try to “influence” the Trackside decision?  That was not undue…

      Are any of your neighborhood group supporting, financially or otherwise, folk running for CC who come from ‘the neighborhood’?  Difference?  How do you “expect” them to vote on matters concerning the neighborhood? True, if it their specific neighborhood is affected (or them personally), financially, it is presumed they would need to recuse themselves…

  7. Howard P

    BTW… the FF’s INTENT was to have undue influence… no question about that…

    Whether they succeeded is another… another key word, ‘causality’… public safety has always had more appeal to the public for financial preference… “they keep us safe, and risk their lives!”

    So, ‘causality’ is in question to me…

    Reminds me of a different group of public employees, who play a similar, but different card…

  8. Sean Raycraft

    What we really ought to be talking about is by district elections. Right now, the election process attracts a certain kind of person. Those being people with deep pockets, or retired home owners. Those kinds of folks are not representative of the community as a whole. Why does the system favor those kinds of folks? Because at large elections in town cost 20k to run a legitimate campaign. I think by district elections would allow for more local representation, and the elections would cost a whole lot less.

    1. Howard P

      Sean … in many cases (jurisdictions) that I have been aware of in the past, district elections create “parochial” situations for the community… the “representative” can start behaving like they only represent their own district, and not the City as a whole… “quid pro quo” situations come up, where CC members “bargain” with each other, like ‘this is important to my district, let me know what you need support on for your district’… Congress, particularly the House, is notorious for this…

      Sean your point re: financing has some merit, but there are downsides/concerns re:  district elections as well…

      There is also the issue of drawing district boundaries… are you familiar with the term “gerrymandering”?   Who would decide the boundaries?  The CC?  No thank you…

      Be careful what you ask for…

      1. Sean Raycraft

        Howard, these are all reasonable points. Obviously, we would have to figure out how to fairly district the city. These comments I am making are in no way to disparage the current city council. I feel they are all good faith actors, doing their best, which I think is the best a citizen can ask for.

    2. Don Shor

      Those being people with deep pockets, or retired home owners. Those kinds of folks are not representative of the community as a whole.

      You think the current crop of candidates for council meets this description? The current council? The last one?

    3. Tia Will


      We have been down this road before. As I pointed out to you previously, one candidate from the neighborhood had recused himself from financial discussions involving further steps the neighborhood might consider. If we are going to talk about “recusal” there are definite rules about financial interest recusals, but much looser criteria for “personal interest” recusals as was clearly illustrated by one council member, an initial investor in the Trackside project, who divested and then still chose to vote on the project.

      Would you hold everyone to the same standard, or only invoke the “personal interests” of OED residents ?

      Also, I would like to point out for the sake of “consistency” that my objections to the Trackside project never involved monetary gain or loss for me. As was pointed out repeatedly, no one felt that my home, two blocks away would be affected financially. My object has always been that while the developers and investors ( none from our immediate neighborhood stood to gain financially), no direct housing “need” for the city was met by this project. No affordable housing component, no student housing. Luxury units only. A definite “want” with benefits for a select few. No needs met and inconvenience and undesired change in neighborhood character ignored.

      1. Howard P

        Would you hold everyone to the same standard, or only invoke the “personal interests” of OED residents ?

        No, I’d hold them to the standards of the law (financial).   Interesting concept, yes?

        If someone has a ‘personal interest’ (like personal morals/beliefs) in “social justice” (non-financial) for example, no harm, no foul… and me personally helping to finance a candidate whose philosophy meshes with mine, same, same.

        Yet, the topic is the motivation of interest groups, that they expect favors from, or get special representation from electeds, is it not?

        Your two quotes were inconsistent… related to OED or not.  I questioned your stated ‘logic’, not your personal motivations, nor OED’s (in aggregate).  Yet I believe some OED individuals expect that …. how can I say it?  “some neighborhoods are equal, but some are more equal than others”… it’s why I oppose district elections…


        1. Tia Will


          I think the Trackside decision made it perfectly clear that OED was not even as equal as others (where else in established neighborhoods but in the core are zoning and design guidelines being changed to accommodate developers ?), certainly not more so.

          I have never asked for special treatment. I have asked for an even playing field and for developers/investors to have to play by the same rules as everyone else.

  9. Sean Raycraft

    Every candidate on the current council (I think) is a home owner. Maybe Robb isnt? Im not 100% on that. But as far as I know, Linda owns her home, as does Ezra, Dan Carson, Gloria Partida, Mark West, Mary Jo Bryan and I think Luis Rios does? Im not 100% on him. The only candidate that I know for certain rents is Eric. Renters make up half the city population, when was the last time we had an actual renter on the council? Lamar?

    Don- Maybe your definition of deep pockets and mine are a little different. When I say deep pockets I mean someone that can potentially dump 10k into their campaign if they need to without becoming destitute. For example, Brett Lee paid quite a bit out of pocket for his 2016 campaign.

    There is another factor to consider that David misses here. Who are your typical Davis political donors? They usually come from those same classes. Home owning economically stable folks with an interest in local politics. Most of the time, those interests are benign, or even productive, but do they have certain world views? Concerns? Absolutely.

    Above all, I want to re iterate that the donor class of Davis does not typically represent the community interest as a whole. This isnt to say that the current crop of candidates arent sensitive to renters needs, a whole bunch of them are, and Im thankful for that. That is to say that ultimately, people are loyal to those who pay them, which is why we oughta find ways to lessen the costs of campaigns in town.


    1. Keith O

      What’s stopping younger renters from running?  As far as campaign money this article is about how small donations can add up and if being a renter is a desirable trait any candidate would have half the city as possible donors to draw from.

      Where’s all the retired politicians and candidates you referred to earlier?

      1. David Greenwald

        “What’s stopping younger renters from running? ”

        The best example was Lamar Heystek, he ran and won in 2006 after losing badly in 2004. But earning money was a problem for him and ended leaving office after one term.

        To answer your question: it’s easy to run, hard to win.

    2. Howard P

      “Community interest”… I’m 95+% confident that the vast majority of homeowners in Davis were once  college students, once working for low wages (or dependent on their parents, or a little of both), and renters for a number of years… I think that most folk, even financially secure homeowners can relate to issues students, low wage earner, renters face… maybe different magnitude, but having lived the same experiences… just saying…

      1. David Greenwald

        And I’m 95% confident after reading a lot of comments over the last few years that many people who were college students in the 1970s are not aware of current challenges and have no idea what students pay in tuition and rent.

        1. Ken A

          The people that went to college in the 50’s and 60’s (who paid under $200 a year to go to UC schools) may be out of touch with current tuition and rents, but just about all the “people who were college students in the 1970s” (and 80’s) have kids in college (or friends with kids in college) so since they are writing checks (or hearing people complaining about writing checks) they know “what students pay in tuition and rent”…

        2. Howard P

          Well, David and Ken, I disagree… note that I used qualifiers… the particular one being “different magnitude”…

          Please don’t dare to dismiss my empathy for students… them’s fighting words…

        3. David Greenwald

          Let me give you an example, people are complaining that these apartments represent “luxury” apartments, the reality is that the $800 to $1000 per bed is actually about average for the city and far below what it costs for on-campus housing.  That’s an example. Of what I’m talking about that some people seem to have no concept for how much it costs to live here.

        4. Ken A

          I’m wondering if David can name the people commenting who “were college students in the 1970s” that “are not aware of current challenges and have no idea what students pay in tuition and rent.”

          Howard, Tia and Don have all mentioned that they went to college in the 70’s and I’m pretty sure they know more about current tuition and rent than most current college students.

        5. Tia Will


          Right now, the election process attracts a certain kind of person. Those being people with deep pockets, or retired home owners”

          I find this a curious comment although I see from subsequent posts that your view seems more nuanced than initially posted. I do not know of any of the current candidates who have particularly “deep pockets”, unless you feel that homeownership ( regardless of amount of mortgage on said home) qualifies as “deep pockets” in your mind. Only two of the current candidates are “retired home owners”.

          Of the current council, Robb is a renter. I believe the same to have been true of Lamar when he was here. However, homeownership is not necessarily a marker of huge wealth. For example, I was able to save much more as a renter student, doubled up in my room to save for medical school than I was as a starter home owner responsible for mortgage, utilities, home repairs, parcel taxes, etc.

          I know that you view the issue as one of home ownership vs non home ownership as you have posted on previous threads. This is not universally true, and as I stated previously, in my view, unnecessarily divisive. Yes, I am writing as an affluent, retired, homeowner, whose views if anything are probably more egalitarian than your own. I hate to see you potentially alienating those who would be your natural allies.

        6. Ken A

          When David says “people are complaining that these apartments represent “luxury” apartments” he needs to remember that compared to the crappy student apartments in the 70’s and 80’s the new apartments in town are “luxury” apartments.  Back in the 70’s most things were a lot more spartan and a new Honda Accord was under $5K.  Today a loaded Honda Accord is over $30K and has more “luxury” features than a Mercedes (or even a Rolls Royce) from the 70’s.

        7. Tia Will


          I’d rather not personalize it but I think you know who I’m talking about.”

          I actually do not know who you are talking about. I doubt that there is anyone who posts here who does not know, at least from articles on the Vanguard, the current costs of renting in town. Many of us are well aware of both rental costs, and the costs of mortgage payment, taxes and home maintenance a consideration of which many students are unaware.

          I think your 95% number is absurdly high. If you did not have enough money to afford housing in the 70’s,80’s and 90’s it was no different a situation than for the students who do not have enough money now. You cannot pay what you do not have regardless of the absolute number. I speak as someone who chose to live out of my van, homeless by choice,  for a semester in order to save money which I knew would be needed for medical school.

          Also, you seem to be forgetting that many of us who were poor students in the 80’s and 90’s , have experienced having children who were students in even more expensive locations than Davis. We know from both direct and secondary experience what students faced in the past, and at least in my case, what they are still experiencing.

          Again, I think that this is being turned into an unnecessarily divisive issue, falsely portraying and perpetuating a students vs homeowner scenario, sometimes in the comments section, and sometimes in articles posted as opinion. I believe for example that Don Shor is a homeowner ( albeit not in Davis) and I am a Davis homeowner, and yet both of us have spoken out repeatedly for more apartments for students based on actual community need.


          1. David Greenwald

            I was just poking fun at the previous poster with the number.

            But Tia, you too are not responding to the substance of my point which is that people are calling $800 to $1000 apartments, luxury when in fact that’s right smack in the middle of market rate for a bed in Davis.

        8. Sean Raycraft


          Im definitely not trying to alienate folks. I do get fired up about issues surrounding politics, particularly the politics of the working poor. That is nothing new. I should have said “retired” or “home owner” etc etc etc. Online interactions often lack nuance for sure. Folks get in to the argument mode and soon, nothing else matters.

          The broader point Im trying, and evidently failing to get across, is that the at large system of city council elections increases costs to run for council dramatically. Which in turn means that a candidate has to spend more time fundraising, which means there is a lot of opportunity cost at the least, influence peddling at worst. I think David’s point about how money in politics (even with a 150$ limit in davis) is valid. The really broader point Im trying to make is that we ought to find ways to lower the costs of elections locally, and by district elections would help with that process.


          1. Don Shor

            There has been a trend over the last several election cycles where candidates win the old-fashioned way: they go door to door and talk to people. Look at the city-wide winners in the last few elections: Krovoza, Robb Davis, Brett Lee. For a long time council majorities came from one well-defined faction or the other. There were people who were opposed to growth, and there were candidates more aligned with Wolk or Saylor. Instead, now we’re seeing candidates from much more diverse backgrounds and less aligned with any specific ‘bloc’ in town. I agree it’s hard for a renter to run, in part because of the cost and in part because of the time demands of the job. But I don’t think district elections will really solve that.

        9. Ken A

          When Tia says “homeownership is not necessarily a marker of huge wealth” it is true that most homeowners in Davis do not have “huge wealth” compared to people on the Forbes 400 or even compared to most retired California MDs.  With “most” homeowners in Davis having over $250K in home equity (and quite a few having over a million dollars in home equity) it is “huge wealth” when you are a guy (or gal) that is deep in debt living in a crappy apartment and working one or more low wage jobs…

    3. Howard P

      An interesting concept, that hasn’t gotten much traction in the past, is to contribute as much as you want to a campaign… with the stipulation that it all goes into a common “pool” that can be equally used by all candidates… I could live with that…

      1. Ken A

        I still like my idea where you can’t vote on anything that makes money for your donors.  If you want to take developer money fine, you just don’t get to vote on anything that has to do with development.  If you want to take union money fine, you just need to recuse yourself on any votes related to giving union members money.

        1. Ken A

          It is make “or” save money to “a specific person or group”.  If the city wanted to send $50 to everyone in town the donors would also get a check just like if the city lowered the price of using the pool or getting a building permit for everyone the donors would also save money.  It is directly make or save money since there is nothing the city can do to stop a city employee from shopping at donors store or stop a family that saves money on lower prices at manor pool from buying dinner at a donors restaurant.

  10. Howard P

    the reality is that the $800 to $1000 per bed is actually about average for the city and far below what it costs for on-campus housing. 

    OK… so you reporting that the dorm you cited (3 bed) was $950 per bed?  Consistency with the quote?

    1. David Greenwald

      Yes because they have to also pay for the meal plan to attend the dorm. Also if they tripled up in a private development, they wouldn’t be paying anywhere near $950.

  11. Jeff M

    SCOTUS has a case that will probably spell either the continuation of eventual dismantling of public sector unions corrupting the democratic process with respect to budgets and spending.

    It could go either way.

    But there is copious evidence today that warrants the dismantling.

    1. Howard P

      Just curious… do you know the name of the case, and will you share?

      In W Virginia, teachers have been on strike for 6 days, schools closed… arguing over a 4-5% salary increase… teachers demanded increases, lower house approved 5%, upper house said 4%… the upper house’s action is what they are striking over…

      I do not believe in public employees’ “right to strike”, particularly in essential services, such as public safety, public works emergency services, public education…

      1. Jeff M

        The case is brought by Mark Janus, an Illinois public sector employee. He says that because he is a government employee, issues germane to collective bargaining are inherently political. He argues that the First Amendment protects him from having to support such political expression.

        He is represented by groups such as the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty Justice Center who argue that approximately 5 million public sector employees are required — as a condition of their employment — to “subsidize the speech of a third party that they may not support, namely the government-appointed exclusive representative.”

        1. Howard P

          I predict, based on the facts of the cite (treating them as “givens”) the SCOTUS will deny… the issues presented by the appellant were the wrong issues… almost a ‘suicide pill’…

      2. Tia Will


        do not believe in public employees’ “right to strike”….

        Do you believe that they have a right to a living wage ? Or do you think that public “servants” should be in a race to the bottom which, in theory, could include virtual indentured servitude if they had loans to repay ? Not trying to be nasty here, just wondering what you do see as society’s obligation to its workers if any.

        1. Howard P

          Public sector workers, prospective or existing, have the right to negotiate and politic… but no, no right to strike, in my opinion… strikes usually just piss off the public, anyhow.  In the meantime the public faces risks… strikes are threats…

          Your 1:20 post, intentionally or not, conflates issues…

          “Living wage” means different things to different people…

    2. Howard P

      BTW… government “enabled” public sector unions, by requiring that they would only deal with ’employee groups’, not individual employees… based on job classes and individuals within them, governments bought into the concept that the weakest employee got compensated the same as a “median” employee, and unions protected the weakest, and then argue that the median should be compensated the same as the “high performers”… just saying…

      And, my usual disclosure, particularly for professional classes, I abhor unions… they have served their purpose as to exploitation of workers 60-70 years ago, and there are still some I have no problems with… farm workers, and the lower end of retail… there is still the tendency to exploit that labor for profit… government, on the other hand, makes no profit…

  12. Jim Frame

    there is still the tendency to exploit that labor for profit… government, on the other hand, makes no profit…

    That doesn’t mean there’s no incentive to shift budget dollars from one group to another.  Upper management — whether public, private, profit or non-profit — knows that if it shades labor costs in favor of itself by reducing labor costs of those on the lower rungs, it can keep the budget flat.

    I’ve had much of my insurance coverage with State Farm, a mutual insurance company (sort of like a co-op), for over 40 years.  But I’m very much aware that the company isn’t focused on keeping costs low for its customer-members; rather, it’s focused on keeping the income of its agents high.  As long as it keeps its rates reasonably well aligned with the market, it stays in business and its agents make a very (sometimes very very) good living.

    1. Howard P

       Upper management — whether public, private, profit or non-profit — knows that if it shades labor costs in favor of itself by reducing labor costs of those on the lower rungs, it can keep the budget flat.

      More than a small kernel of truth in that…

      Probably not prevalent, tho’…

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