I agree with Scott Malsin that it’s unfair to change the rules for city employees in the middle of the game by reducing their benefits and that reductions should be grandfathered in for employees who are near retirement. Unlike some who have written to the editor, I don’t view public employees as members of a ‘privileged class’. They’re working people and are entitled to have their contracts honored just as any private employee.
On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him in his ‘predicament’ in which he must pull a Sarah Palin and resign his elected office before Jan. 1 in order to keep his lifetime medical benefits. Of course he has to consider his family, but one assumes that he considered them when he ran for office in the first place, as well as that he found a way to provide medical insurance for them before that. If he had campaigned on the idea that we should vote him into office so that we could pay for him to have lifetime medical insurance, that would be one thing, but I don’t recall that item in any of his campaign materials. I hope he ran for office for civic reasons, but this threat to resign certainly makes it appear that the economic perks of office are paramount. And appearances count.
They’ll count especially if, after resigning in a snit over his benefits, Mr. Malsin should run for a City Council office again, as speculated in last week’ issue of the Culver City News. Then he would appear to be gaming the system not only to keep his benefits but to circumvent the term limits law.
This conflict is only made possible because for some reason elected city officials are considered city employees. I don’t know why that is, since they don’t have to possess any special skills for their position and they can’t move to another city council, unlike a policeman or traffic engineer. In fact, they have to ask for their job every four years and they can only do that twice.
It’s fair to provide benefits to city council members in return for the hours of service they put in, but there is no reason that they should keep those benefits after they’ve left office. It’s a financial burden to the City and it leads to these situations, where a council member’s decisions are based not on his judgment of what’s good for the City, but on what’s good for him.