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Cassity: Let's create a nonprofit to cover city's pension costs

July 19, 2012|By Chuck Cassity

Always wishing to be kept informed about issues that affect America, I signed up to receive periodic email updates from the president of the United States as he campaigns endlessly in an effort to win reelection.

I started receiving two or three emails a day from various and sundry members of the Obama administration exhorting me to please donate, donate big and donate now.

They say that if I cough up as little as $3, I will be entered into a drawing to win an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to dine with the commander in chief and one or more of his buddies — his wife maybe, or George Clooney, or Pee Wee Herman, or whomever happens to be kicking around Foggy Bottom that day.

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It is hoped this rather unseemly fundraising scheme will help Obama raise up to $1 billion to help sink Mitt Romney's boat.

The latest wrinkle in this little drama came this past week.

This new email asked me to forego birthday, anniversary, retirement and wedding presents, in favor of giving the money to the Obama reelection campaign.

While I certainly wish the president well with his three or four fundraisers a day, every day, I'd really rather keep my present money a bit closer to home. That's why I came up with an idea I think could be a real winner for Costa Mesa.

Instead of sending my present money to D.C., I'd like my fellow Costa Mesans to consider donating to help retire our city's unfunded pension liability. As of now, we owe almost $250 million to our police, fire and city workers that we have no realistic way of paying.

And it's growing.

Somehow or other we've managed to rack up this huge indebtedness while no one was looking. A decade or two of ever higher compensation for public union members, exacerbated by lowered retirement ages, coupled with the failure to address the growing problem by a succession of well-meaning but in-over-their-heads elected leaders, and a dire U.S. economy, has put our town in a really uncomfortable position.

But we're not alone. It has been predicted that up to 20% of all California cities are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. At least 200 other U.S. cities are in a similar pickle.

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