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From the notebook: More quotes on California's public pensions

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 - 12:05 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 - 7:35 pm

As reported in today's Bee, the battle lines have been drawn now that a new group led by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has filed papers to put a public pension measure on the November 2014 ballot.

What follows are quotes that didn't get into today's story or Tuesday's breaking-news blog post.

Reed, on union charges that he is using public pensions as a political stepping stone: "I'm not a candidate for another office. ... I'm not going to run for statewide office. Some people find it hard to believe, but that's just the facts."

Bill Whalen, Hoover Institution research fellow and speech writer for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, on the qualifying process that starts with submitting the measure to Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris for a title and summary: "Let's see if it emerges unscathed from the AG."

On the strategy that organized labor will use to fight the measure: "They're going to look deep inside the initiative and pull a straw out and hope the whole thing collapses. They'll try to find one controversial element."

Jack Pitney, political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, on the impending fight between the initiative's advocates and organized labor: "Public employ unions have intensity on their side. The public has a more remote and distant concern. So the question is, does any group out there have an equally intense motivation to pass this?"

On whether overwhelming funding by either side will prevail: "Sure, money always wins elections. Just ask Gov. (Meg) Whitman. (Money) might get it to the ballot with a paid signature campaign, but labor is organized in every precinct in the state. ... If I were to be the mortgage, I'd bet (the unions) will win."

We can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the Notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

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Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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