Since leaving office in 2001, the former mayor has not exactly distinguished himself as an elder statesman of L.A. politics. But at age 82, Riordan seems determined to leave a permanent imprint on the city he once governed by gutting the pensions of some 30,000 city employees.
Riordan is promoting and helping to bankroll a ballot petition that, if it qualifies and passes, would replace the modest but secure retirement plans of future city workers with their poor cousin, the 401(k). Current city employees would theoretically retain their retirement benefits, but these too would almost certainly get the axe because the ballot petition empowers the City Council to eviscerate pensions.
If all this sounds extreme, it is —
Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan has been in the news lately, arguing that city leaders need to take drastic steps to make Los Angeles more business friendly and get the city functioning again. He has blamed public sector unions for every woe facing the region, including the current financial crisis and potholes on his street in Brentwood.
Mayor Riordan is not just crying in the wilderness. His threat to put a draconian pension-cutting initiative on the ballot played a major part in prompting the City Council last month to hastily adopt its own pension-cutting plan – a plan that almost certainly will be thrown out by the courts as a violation of existing collective bargaining agreements.
Riordan’s resurrection as a major political force begs a fundamental question: How successful was he at bringing business and jobs to L.A. and overseeing scarce public resources when he was running the city?
Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan is pushing a ballot initiative that would decimate city workers’ pensions and replace them with risky 401(k) plans.
Riordan is aiming more at voters’ emotions than he is at solving a budget issue. It won’t solve the city’s budget problems. If Riordan’s initiative gets on the ballot, it will only make things worse.
I’ve worked as a tree trimmer for the City of L.A. for 15 years. When thinking about Riordan’s plan, I want people in L.A. to ask themselves these questions: How is the pension I earn during my years with the city going to take food off your table or take money out of your pocket? How is my pension going to keep you from finding work or paying your rent and bills?
The answer is simple: My pension does not hurt your quality of life.
So, what’s the motivation for Riordan’s attack on retirement?