By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Despite the reduced personal risks and county boundaries, no one has since offered the sheriff a pay cut. Which is still no excuse to beat up on his widow.
Leading the cry on this issue was county TreasurerTax Collector Mark Saladino, who, in a stiff report to the board, claimed that “What happened with the sheriff‘s widow is not that unusual.” But actually, he couldn’t come up with a single further example of widows taking advantage of their spouses‘ dying in county employment.
Instead, he presented some “Mr. Bad Example” cases full of anonymous detail while -- insofar as they all involved living retirees -- bereft of any similarities to Block’s. “Officers who win job-stress benefits because of obesity and alcoholism,” for instance. You mean stress never drives people to drink or overeating? He also spoke of “the heart presumption,” meaning that fire and law-enforcement people‘s heart ailments are usually presumed by the retirement board to be job-related. There’s an easy way to prove they aren‘t?
All this reminds me of those Reagan-era welfare anecdotes. Remember the man who bought his daily vodka with food stamps and the woman who bore 18 little child-assistance recipients by as many different fathers?
None of them was typical of the average relief recipient, any more than was Saladino’s obese desk sergeant typical of those who get stress pensions.
Bad cases, it is said, make bad law. And as with the 1980s welfare-case fable -- and despite Saladino‘s protest that “most applicants are legitimately disabled” -- what’s visible here is a form of thinly veiled contempt. But this time, instead of focusing on allegedly lazy cheats and ne‘er-do-wells, the contempt is directed at the county’s most esteemed employees and their relatives. Whose representatives will very likely (I want to say “properly”) resist mightily any pension “reforms” the board might come up with.
Greening the Turf
S. David Freeman stomped into the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power‘s Hope Street executive suite a little over two years ago, and the place hasn’t been the same since. What was then a declining, self-privileged bureaucratic autocracy is now perhaps as lean and mean as a city department can be.
It has to be, because otherwise it can‘t compete with the deregulation of the power industry that will soon bust open the DWP’s monopoly on selling city residents electricity. Which is why the DWP is marketing itself, offering “Green” watts to its L.A. customers. By accident, according to DWP, some people outside L.A.‘s boundaries also have received these elaborate mailings, including some of my Santa Monica neighbors: The brochures include color photos of and Green Power endorsements by Ralph Nader, Robert Redford and, last and not least, the DWP’s own David Freeman.
No problem, you might say. Except for one thing. As it happens, Freeman is also running for the local Assembly seat. Others who want the seat -- former Santa Monica City Councilman Tony Vasquez for one -- think this DWP Green Power campaign gives Freeman a big visibility advantage.
This may well be true, but according to Lee Ann Pelham of the City Ethics Commission, as long as there‘s no mention of the election on the Green mailer, there’s no problem, legally. Even though that mailer is franked by the DWP and hence paid for by you ratepayers.
My calls to Freeman‘s office and that of DWP Green Power czar John Giese were not returned, by the way.