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I’ll make Mr. Bargas a deal. Pass legislation that makes it illegal for public employee unions to use their dues to donate to political campaigns, and I’ll support temporary higher taxes to bridge the gap until Fullerton’s financial ship is righted.
Mr. Bargas is a union leader who cares about a few things. The salaries and benefits of his employees, what they are held accountable to, and how they are held accountable.
The clash of political philosophies he refers to, and the philosophy he espouses, as with all political animals, is designed to ensure his member’s salaries, pensions, job security, assurances of income security, time off, work expectations and the like. His philosophy operates on the assumption that his members are to be esteemed to a level far beyond the private sector residents of the city. For some reason, if one’s paycheck comes from government you are a hero, and the rest of us should be eternally grateful for your work. I am equally grateful to the assistant manager at a shoe store, as I am to a city maintenance worker. My financial gratitude does not extend beyond the point at which market forces dictate what somebody should be paid, how secure their position must be, or the layers of due process required to take action with their employment circumstances.
The challenge for conservatives has been a willingness to stick to their core values in the face of a political reality which renders the employees of this city more powerful than its residents. Mr. Bargas is well aware of this truth, and is understandably inclined to capitalize on it.
In an era where the average voter knows little about municipal government or the city’s budget, much less the degree to which managing that budget essentially requires the negotiated consent of the employees. True conservatives, properly empowered to budget as they saw fit, would run a city with excellent roads, well kept parks, effective law enforcement and fire protection, and endeavor to do so with a measured degree of financial cushion, combined with a desire to accomplish this at the lowest possible tax burden to its residents. I am confident that his favorite council members are the Democratic councilmen who are most concerned with keeping his employees happy and the campaign donations rolling in, rather than achieving the previously described.
Those of Mr. Bargas’ ilk, view government functions as morally superior to the private sector, and commitment to those functions as being reflective of a kind of higher virtue.
Chris Thompson is a Fullerton Planning Commissioner, a former Fullerton School District Trustee 2000 – 2008 and 2012 Fullerton Recall Manager.
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