Russell Buckley's Blog (24)

On La Mesa: Russell Buckley


Supreme Court Protest


LA MESA -- A couple of weeks ago La Mesa Today carried …


Added by Russell Buckley on March 31, 2015 at 7:30pm — 25 Comments

La Mesa City Council

Managing The Pension Tiger

By Russell Buckley

LA MESA -- At Thursday's Strategic Planning Workshop (open to the public every year) a number of important topics were discussed - none more consequential than La Mesa's rising pension costs. A well respected actuary named…


Added by Russell Buckley on March 13, 2014 at 8:00pm — 9 Comments

Should Not Be A Surprise

            The bitter fight over Obamacare should not surprise anyone. Legislation governing an issue that is of such importance to every citizen must have the support of a large majority. Obamacare was passed despite the objection of a significant part of the citizenry and without a single vote from the opposition party in either the House or the Senate. It was filled with bribes to individual Senators and favors (exceptions) to special interest groups. It was 2,700 pages long and…


Added by Russell Buckley on October 1, 2013 at 7:00pm — No Comments

A Challenge to the City Council (Delivered at the 3/26 Meeting)

         Mayor Madrid and Council members: You may have read an article in the U/T a month or two ago about a program the city of Escondido implemented to reduce the cost of firefighting services - more specifically the cost of Emergency Medical Services. I heard a presentation about this program from the two senior Firemen in Escondido last Friday. Their work, like all fire departments, has increasingly shifted from fighting fires to providing EMT services. Escondido's 2012 calls…


Added by Russell Buckley on March 26, 2013 at 9:00pm — 3 Comments

A Different Take on Fair Trade


         There are a few words such as "fairness" that most of us agree describe proper behavior. It feels good to behave fairly. More than good, being fair even makes us feel a little superior to those who don't think and behave as fairly as we do. Sometimes we go so far as to try to impose our feelings of fairness on those other, less enlightened, people among us. That is what a group of Fair Trade zealots, abetted by the Mayor, is trying to do in La…


Added by Russell Buckley on November 5, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments

Thoughts About City Pensions and the Budget

         I spoke at the Town Hall meeting tonight urging that we reduce pension costs before they break the bank. Later in the meeting, someone reacted to my comments by defending the pension status quo because our police and firemen are important to the community. I whole-heartedly agree that police and firemen are important to the community and have said so publicly more than once. I agree that the other City workers, in public works and Human Relations, etc. are important to the…


Added by Russell Buckley on February 7, 2012 at 10:30pm — No Comments

One Bad Memory

         Christmas 2011 has come and gone. I have enjoyed Christmas season for as long as I can remember, and this year was no exception. Not only is Christmas a special time for our nations predominate religious group, it's observance is by now a significant part of our culture. While it means different things to different people, the Christmas celebration generally brings…


Added by Russell Buckley on December 29, 2011 at 8:00pm — No Comments

Millions, Billions and Trillions


Figuring Out The Really Big Numbers

   I am bothered when people use the terms millions, billions and trillions as synonyms - all meaning very large numbers. I guess it is the remnants of my former life as a high school math teacher.…


Added by Russell Buckley on November 22, 2011 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Impressive Growth In One Sector of Our Economy

         The annual update of the CalPers $100,000 pension club (a list of CalPers pensioners receiving more than $100,000 per year) was recently published. It continues to show remarkable growth. The Club had 1,841 members in 2005. By 2009 it had grown to 6,133. 2010 membership was 9,111 and this year's membership is 12,199. That is 99% growth in just the past two years! Current club rolls show Helix Water District with five members, City of La Mesa with seven, and City of El Cajon with 27.…


Added by Russell Buckley on November 9, 2011 at 9:00pm — 3 Comments

Why Is the City Council Sitting on Its Hands?

I'm increasingly frustrated by the lack of action on the part of our elected representatives to reign in fundamentally unfair and unaffordable pensions granted to public sector employees. The most recently passed MOU's - for Police and non-safety employees- did nothing to reduce the problem. I have no idea why there is no MOU for Fire (was there one last year?). Here are my comments at tonight's City Council meeting:

I notice that the changes made to this year's MOU's do nothing more…


Added by Russell Buckley on June 28, 2011 at 6:30pm — No Comments

Helix Water District

Buckley: HWD Board Let Us Down

The "pension reform" in the just approved Helix Water District (HWD) labor agreements is about what I feared from negotiations that have employees sitting on both sides of the bargaining table. Despite assurances that pensions would be reformed, made during the last rate increase hearings, little was actually done. The Board must have thought token changes would give the…


Added by Russell Buckley on April 22, 2011 at 1:30pm — 1 Comment

They Are Talking About Us!

Posted by member Russell Buckley          

"Today's benefit structure for public employees is unrecognizable from the design, funding structure and goals of the original 1932 version. Instead of retirement security, the public pension became a wealth generator. Initially, state workers retiring at age 65 could expect retirement income at roughly half of their final compensation, based on an average salary earned during their last five years of…


Added by Russell Buckley on March 27, 2011 at 11:00am — 14 Comments

Helix Water District Shrinks Its Budget

Helix Water District Shrinks Its Budget

By Russell Buckley

So reads the headline in the most recent edition of Helix Highlights - a glossy publication from HWD. I am happy to see costs reduced. I assume that will mean lower water rates - a thing I expect most of us can agree about. But a little more reflection on the article brings out the skeptic in me. Ongoing MOU negotiations, which many of us…


Added by Russell Buckley on March 15, 2011 at 12:00pm — 4 Comments

Russell Buckley On Pensions

What Are We Doing?

I have read two articles in recent issues of the Union Tribune, reporting that Lemon Grove is about to receive $300,000 of Federal Aid to repair streets. I almost fell out of my chair. Silly me - I thought that street repair was a local responsibility. I wonder if the good citizens of Lemon Grove think it is really the responsibility of citizens in La Mesa and…


Added by Russell Buckley on January 4, 2011 at 9:30am — 9 Comments

Time For Our City Council To Speak-Up

This evening I addressed the La Mesa City Council to request their help in keeping our water rates from being increased again. Specifically, I asked the Council to request that the Helix Water District Board of Directors reform the exorbitant pensions that our water rates support. Here is the text of what I said:

"I am here today to ask you to take a stand about an issue that clearly and directly affects every resident of our city - water rates. Helix Water District recently increased… Continue

Added by Russell Buckley on December 14, 2010 at 8:00pm — 11 Comments

Rates and Pensions at HWD

Most of us are aware that Helix Water District water rates were recently increased. One reason for the increase is that, like many Special Districts and Cities in this state, HWD employees receive pensions far more generous (and far more costly) than most private sector workers enjoy. Your Board of Directors has chosen to spend your money in an irresponsible and unnecessary way. Negotiations about a new salary and benefit arrangement between the ratepayers and the employees of HWD are about to… Continue

Added by Russell Buckley on November 18, 2010 at 11:51am — No Comments

Fiscal Insanity in the Making

I just noticed that the American Federation of Teachers is promoting the candidacy of two Community College teachers for seats on the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board: Edwin Heil and Debbie Justeson. I have not met either of them. Based on the description given in our Voter Information Pamphlet, both sound like good citizens. What I don't understand is how we can possibly vote for District employees, even good citizens, to serve on the Board that sets their salaries… Continue

Added by Russell Buckley on October 12, 2010 at 12:25pm — 7 Comments

Member Buckley Says: Don't Be Fooled Again

Our Helix Water District Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on an 8.8% increase in water rates this Wednesday (August 18th). It seems like we are bombarded by tax and rate increases. For example, the recent State of California 1% sales tax increase; the recent City of La Mesa 0.75% sales tax increase; two recent increases in the City of El Cajon sales tax; the City of San Diego proposed 0.5% increase in sales tax; and the narrowly rejected 0.5% sales tax increase in Lemon… Continue

Added by Russell Buckley on August 15, 2010 at 8:24pm — 20 Comments

Member Russell Buckley: Taxpayers Lose Again

I'm really bummed out. I just left the City Council meeting where our elected representatives voted unanimously to approve an MOU for non -safety workers that barely addresses our single biggest financial problem - pensions. Like almost every government institution in the state, La Mesa pays exorbitant pensions to its employees. They are far in excess of what private sector taxpayers receive. The most significant reason we got into this financial mess, and remain in this mess, is that the… Continue

Added by Russell Buckley on July 27, 2010 at 8:56pm — 3 Comments

Member Russell Buckley: Say No to Water Rate Increase

Sunday's Union Tribune included an editorial about the San Diego Unified School District's request for a parcel tax. While most of the editorial is not of direct interest to those of us who live in La Mesa, its introductory sentences are:

"In 2009, alarmed by such abuses as the city of La Mesa distributing costly fliers that suggested a gang invasion loomed unless sales taxes were raised, the state Fair Political Practices Commission tightened rules meant to prevent government agencies… Continue

Added by Russell Buckley on July 14, 2010 at 12:40pm — 1 Comment

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