and public safety officials on its lack of death and disability
benefits and options to save the government money.
Efforts to reach Richman were unsuccessful.
Glendale police officers back the governor's decision.
"I think it is a good thing," said Sgt. Mario Marchman, president
of the Glendale Police Officers Assn. "It's good that he's willing to
sit down at the table and talk with the affected groups and not just
go ahead with a decision that nobody would have really liked."
Under the governor's pension plan, all state, local government and
school employees starting July 1, 2007, could enroll only in a
defined-contribution, 401k-style, pension plan.
Current employees would also voluntarily convert their existing
pension plan to the new plan during a one-time open-enrollment
period. Employees would contribute to a retirement account under the
new plan and would be given a choice of funds. The state would also
Retirees under the current system receive a predetermined payment
upon retirement based upon a formula that includes the number of
years of service, the employee's "final compensation" and the
employee's age at retirement.
The payments often can be up to 90% of an employee's salary.
Despite the governor's change of heart, Burbank firefighters are
not going to let their guard down, said Lew Stone, president of the
Burbank Firefighters Local 778.
"We are extremely happy that he has chosen a better plan by trying
to work with the legislature," Stone said. "He has a long history of
distrust for labor unions, and unfortunately he sees nurses, teachers
and public employees as a special interest."
Not all, however, agree with the governor's decision to back down
on the plan.
"In a single word: disappointed," said State Sen. Bob Margett of
the governor's decision. "There are several issues that the governor
had to capitulate on, and in capitulating he lost some of the base
that got him into office."
The governor said he is willing to work with Democrats, with a
caveat. "But should we not be able to reach an agreement in this
building, then they should understand that our pension-reform
proposal will go to the ballot in June 2006," he said in a speech at
the State Capitol building. "And we will win because that's what the
He might not need to do that. Local Democrats have agreed to join
the governor in reforming the pension plan.
"It takes a big man to realize he was wrong," said Assembly
Majority Leader Dario Frommer, a Democrat who represents Glendale and
Frommer acknowledged that certain parts of the current pension
system were flawed and said he would work with the governor to
While most public employees breathed a sigh of relief at the
governor's decision, the Glendale Unified School District was
"We're too busy dealing with issues at hand right now," said Steve
Hodgson, chief business and financial officer for the school
district. "We don't have time to deal with something that's going to
happen in two years."