Voters deserve redemption chance

Merrily Gilroy skips down the path of binding arbitration again.
One man, now selected, will make the decisions for our city of
nearly 50,000 on a key financial issue which will impact this
community’s future for decades.
Merrily Gilroy skips down the path of binding arbitration again. One man, now selected, will make the decisions for our city of nearly 50,000 on a key financial issue which will impact this community’s future for decades.

Is it in the hands of an elected official – someone whom the residents can hold accountable? No. It’s in the hands of a Palo Alto attorney who charges $1,200 a day plus $175 for study and writing time. Nothing against Mr. Paul Kagel, he might be a fine man and an arbitrator possessing the wisdom of Solomon. But frankly, we don’t want Solomon deciding whether Gilroy should spend millions of dollars on a more generous retirement and wage package for our firefighters. And we don’t care how many other firefighters in other cities have been afforded the luxury of retiring at 50 with full medical benefits for life.

Let other cities give public safety employees the moon. What we propose is that our elected officials do what they have done for many years:

• Treat public safety as a top budget and social priority;

• make sure our firefighters and police have top-notch training, equipment and support personnel;

• keep Gilroy’s wage and benefit package competitive, yet within bounds so that there is enough money in the budget to fund new recreation programs, hire enough maintenance people to take of the parks and planners who won’t get lured away to private industry.

Binding arbitration threatens that common-sense approach. And it’s our fault. Gilroy voters added binding arbitration for public safety employees to the city charter in 1988. Bad decision.

Gilroyans need a chance to redeem themselves, and we need a political champion like Mayor Al Pinheiro to put the issue back before the voters. It’s simply the right thing to do. The consequences of the 1988 vote are now clear. If the voters leave binding arbitration intact, with the knowledge of the huge budgetary impact for the future, so be it. At least the issue would have been raised, aired and voted on. That’s exactly what should happen now.

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