I don’t always listen too closely to what’s said at city council meetings now that there’s free WiFi inside the council chambers. But this past week, Councilmember Wieckowski said something that grabbed my attention and made me click away from espn.com.
He was trying to make the argument that city folks had taken their lumps and cut the fat to balance the budget, but it didn’t come out right. It sounded — to me — like he was scolding residents for not wanting to tax themselves. Given the news that one in seven dollars spent by Fremont next fiscal year is projected to pay for pensions, I got a little riled up.
The next day, before work, I replayed the first half of the council meeting on my computer and recorded the part that got me peeved.
I don’t know what came over me. I even started feeling sympathy for my editor, who’s a 60+ year-old Fremont resident with no pension and no hope of retiring anytime soon. The editor lost my goodwill Friday by blasting me for mistakenly writing in a photo caption that a group of young Sikhs were from the Fremont Hindu Temple. Oops. I blame Guru Nanak.
Here’s the recording of the part that got my goat:
It’s like the 2012 tax measure slogan from hell. “Vote Yes on Measure ??, because Fremont you haven’t done squat.”
On Friday I asked Wieckowski about it. He said it wasn’t his best showing. And he also said that pensions are a tough issue that have to be addressed.
To pay more taxes to pay a pension is not what someone is going to want to do. It just galls at people. It’s very tough to defend. I get that.
Wieckowski also said that employees will have to decide whether they are willing to give up some benefits to improve public service.
I think public employees get it. It’s a difficult position to defend: You’re entitled to 90 percent of your pay (in retirement). Where else do you get that?