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Officials should listen to citizen concerns

July 27, 2013

The bankruptcy filed by the city of Detroit should be a warning that all city governments need to heed.

Although there are many factors that have contributed to the financial nightmare of this once great American city, the straw that broke the bank was the city employee salaries and pension obligations. 

Since 2007 I have urged the Glendale City Council and city manager to stop hiring civil service employees because they are hired for the rest of their lives. Once a civil servant retires, he or she receives a lifetime pension of 80% to 90% of their last salaries. It's a compounding problem and doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to understand that these employees will eventually break the bank of any government agency. My suggestions were always countered with the statement that non-civil servant employees just aren't as dedicated to the city as the civil servants are. That is totally a cop out of reality.

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I spent most of my career at NASA/JPL. One of the greatest successes of JPL is the world-wide Deep Space Network. The majority of the personnel required to operate and maintain the DSN are contractors. Their dedication to their positions many times exceeds that of the JPL direct employees. 

Cities need to make it their priority to work together to change the current employee status from civil service to private Social Security-based compensation. It is time for the Glendale City Council and the City Manager to understand that they are employees of the taxpayers and ratepayers of Glendale. They need to listen to the activists who take their time to come to council meetings and budget sessions, not condemn them for expressing their concerns.

Albert Hofmann
Glendale

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