City worker pay issues start with top earners

The problem with “reducing the labor costs of city employees” is that it has not been the six-figure employees whose positions, salaries and fat pensions were reduced.

This whole effort to save The City money has been done on the backs of the little people. “Clerk typists” grossing $32,000 to $47,000 a year — some with master’s degrees, some who are de facto managers — have been the ones to suffer all the layoffs, bumps, salary reductions, reduced benefits and increases in their insurance costs.

Many of these are, of course, older single women, living alone without the support of parents, a husband or children, receiving less than a man’s dollar, paying out San Francisco rents and owning no equity.

For these reasons, I was happy to see that San Francisco voters were not fooled and Proposition B did not pass.

That city employment is not a meritocracy and is run according to some Byzantine and inequitable civil service dogma is another story.

Pamela Kimball, San Francisco

Poor school management

California schools used to be the best in the nation. School districts claim to have money problems, yet driving past many of the local schools, one finds new multimillion-dollar performing arts centers, gymnasiums and libraries, and remodeling in progress.

This is unfortunate for the local voter who is expected to vote for school bonds thinking they are voting to pay teachers, buy books and pay for other things that will directly help our kids get a better education.

The problem is that money is assigned to certain budget categories such as building and grounds or alternately to teacher salaries. The California Legislature could be smart enough to fix this problem by making the budgets more flexible so new performing arts centers could be delayed if teachers or students were in jeopardy.

The way the schools are run today is like the family that lets its children go hungry because money can’t be put in the food budget because it would be taking money away from the vacation budget.

Robert Parkhurst, Redwood City

Stop all the legislating

The 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted to kill lame-duck congressional sessions where defeated legislators returned to legislate. Yet, Democratic congressional leaders are ignoring their decisive defeat in November to push an overloaded lame-duck agenda.

Voters rejected Democrats’ practice of secret backroom bill drafting with massive unread bills emerging loaded with spending. Still, a pork-filled 1,924-page omnibus spending bill with 6,600 earmarks for federal government operations emerged in this lame-duck session. Public backlash killed the bill, but Sens. Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer have another secretly conceived pork-filled “environmental” bill that is more than 1,000 pages.

In addition to these spending bills, this “ram-and-jam” session has frantic lawmakers careening without deliberation from extending the President George W. Bush-era tax rates, rewriting immigration rules, reconsidering gays in the military policy, child nutrition legislation and a nuclear weapons treaty. It’s time for lame ducks to go home.

Jim Hartman, Berkeley

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