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The Truth about Phoenix’s Pension Fight

The Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, endorsed a YES vote on Proposition 487 in an editorial entitled, “Phoenix punted on pensions, Prop. 487 doesn’t.” The proposition, which will be on this November’s ballot, would prevent abuses of the system, known as “pension spiking,” and create a 401(k) style retirement program for new city employees.

Liberty Initiative Fund has been a major donor to the Prop 487 campaign.

The Republic editorial makes a number of important points:

“Phoenix officials had it in their power, once, to stave off Proposition 487, which ends traditional pensions for newly hired civilian employees.

“They declined. Actually, they did worse than simply decline. Faced with an increasingly expensive system that has been grossly abused by Phoenix’s highest paid and most influential retirees, the Phoenix City Council in 2013 proposed to voters changes that in some respects have made the system worse.”

“City leaders, for example, could not bring themselves to truly end the inappropriate practice of pension spiking, the artificial, end-of-career pay boost that helped balloon former City Manager David Cavazos’ annual pension to $232,000. Prop. 487 will.”

As for Prop 487, the paper wrote:

“Prop. 487, which would replace the pension with a 401(k)-type plan, is not a cure-all for past mistakes. It will not fix all of Phoenix’s growing pension woes. . . .

“But, in the end, these dramatic changes will give Phoenix control over skyrocketing pension costs that threaten to strangle the city’s ability to provide the services Phoenix residents have come to expect.”

The entire editorial can be found here.

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Grand Rapids Battle Over Term Limits

Term limitation for politicians is typically a hotly debated issue wherever it is proposed and Grand Rapids, Michigan, is no exception. The grassroots Grand Rapids Citizens for Municipal Term Limits group worked for months to gather enough petition signatures to place the issue on this November’s ballot.

Supporters argue that term limits open up the system and promote new ideas, preventing elected officials from becoming too comfortable in office and encouraging them to be more responsive to voters. The group hopes to raise enough money to be able to send out at least one mailer to voters.

Take a look at the mailer from proponents of municipal term limits: Term Limits Card 

Bonnie Burke, a leader of the pro-term limits group, wrote for the Grand Rapids Press:

“Term limits mandate that open, competitive elections are held in every seat at least once every eight years. This ensures that the commission better represents the current thinking of the citizens.

“Open-seat elections inspire serious, goal-oriented candidates to step up to the job, putting their experience from the private sector to work. This experience, much broader in commissions with term limits than those saddled with entrenched incumbencies, can be put to work in fresh ways.”

Meanwhile, opponents of term limits quickly organized against the charter amendment. The group, Protect Your Vote GR, consisting mainly of the big business lobbyists from the Chamber of Commerce and representatives of organized labor, has already stuffed mailboxes in the city with postcards claiming the ballot issue amounts to “hijacking of our local democratic process” and will “erode local control and silence your voice.”

Yet, it’s what those mailers don’t say that is most interesting, going out of their way not to mention two words: term limits.

MLive: Advocates make their pitch for and against term limits in Grand Rapids

Common Sense: Grand Rapids’ Grand Alliance

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LIF President Blasts Sneaky Arkansas Legislators

In his Sunday column at, entitled “The Deceivers,” Liberty Initiative Fund President Paul Jacob takes on two Arkansas state legislators – Sen. Jon Woods (R-Springdale) and Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) – for their dishonest attempt to amend the state constitution via Issue 3 on this November’s ballot.

Woods and Sabin authored Issue 3, which the legislature voted overwhelmingly to refer to the ballot. The so-called “ethics reform” measure does contain some watered-down ethics provisions, but stuck into the massive 22-page constitutional amendment are several hidden provisions, most horrendous being the gutting of the state’s voter-enacted legislative term limits law.

Had Woods and Sabin written an honest ballot title for their amendment, which more than doubles the time legislators such as Woods and Sabin can stay in the House or Senate to a whopping 16 years, voters would have overwhelmingly defeated Issue 3.  Instead, their ballot title tells voters that Issue 3 is “establishing term limits.”

Arkansas voters established term limits in 1992 with a 60 percent Yes vote. In 2004, when legislators sought to weaken those limits, voters said No by an even bigger 70 percent margin, defeating the attack on term limits in all 75 Arkansas counties.

Issue 3 would also establish an “Independent Citizens Commission,” in charge of setting the salaries for elected officials in the Natural State. However, a majority of the commission would be made up of cronies appointed by the legislative leaders, rather than individuals elected by the voters. There would be no limit to their power to – you guessed it – hike the pay of the politicians who appoint them.

While Issue 3 does include some provisions relating to ethics reform, the proposed amendment uses those reforms as camouflage to hide the real meat of the deceptive measure.

After the 350-plus delegates to the Arkansas GOP’s state convention passed a resolution opposing Issue 3, State Senator Woods told reporters, “You just have a couple of nuts that got together on a Saturday that were out of touch with Arkansans and passed a silly resolution that in no way reflects the point of view of all Republicans in Arkansas.”

Perhaps Sen. Woods will discover who is out of touch with Arkansans on Election Day.

Paul Jacob at “The Deceivers”

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LIF Supports Phoenix Pension Reform TV Ads

The campaign by Citizens for Phoenix Pension Reform to pass Prop 487 has launched a new TV advertisement, countering ridiculously false charges from public employee unions that the ballot measure will block the city from contributing to pensions for police and fire fighters. By law, the City of Phoenix is obligated to contribute to a statewide pension fund for its public safety employees. Moreover, just to be certain, the initiative declares in clear English that it does not affect pensions for police and fire employees.

What Prop 487 does is to prevent abusive “pension spiking” by a few city employees who are gaming the system and costing taxpayers $12 million a year. But public employee unions don’t seem to care one whit about the facts in their well-funded effort to keep pension spiking by defeating Proposition 487 on this November’s ballot.

Thankfully, the Yes on 487 television spot sets the record straight. Liberty Initiative Fund is proud to support the campaign financially.

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by | October 16, 2014 · 3:40 pm

Citizens Launch Petition to Fix Cincinnati’s Pension Problem

As Detroit was declaring bankruptcy, in no small part due to unsustainable pensions, Cincinnati’s bond rating was downgraded by Moody’s Investor Service last week “under a new formula that takes into account cities’ pension responsibilities.”

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor“The city of Cincinnati, as of the end of 2011, owed $728 million more in pension costs than it has paid for,” warned a Cincinnati Enquirer editorial earlier this year. “That’s more than twice as much as the city takes in each year in income taxes.”

Yet, something else happened last week – not a bankruptcy or a downgrade, but something good. Continue reading

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