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Steve Lunetta: Watch the state burn

Right About Now

Posted: July 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.” — Alfred, “The Dark Knight.”


Alfred spoke these words to Batman to make a point: Sometimes, what motivates men has nothing to do with common sense, helpfulness or civic duty. Even simple economic gain might not be a motivator. Occasionally, there are men who seek destruction for the sake of destruction.

There is no negotiation. There is no compromise. Men of this type cannot be reasoned with.

It appears that public service union leaders are men of this ilk. And let’s not forget their liberal Democrat allies that were placed in government by their money.

This columnist recently declared (March 5) that cities would begin defaulting and declaring bankruptcy. In the last month, Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and now San Bernardino have gone belly-up. And more are lined up to follow suit. And the majority of the cause is union pensions and contracts.

And no one seems to care.

Union officials, however, have a much different viewpoint. Steve Turner of the San Bernardino Police Officer’s Association said that “the city has mismanaged their funds. I know they want to blame it on employees and pensions.”

He went on to state that “instead of being responsible financially, they adopt these flawed policies, they lay off city workers, they force concessions of city employees … Their priorities are wrong. They’re spending money (on projects such as a downtown movie theater). Through all of that, they have no accountability.”

No talk of working to find a solution. No talk of scaling back pensions or retirement structure. No concern for the welfare of the city of San Bernardino.

Some men just want to watch the world burn. goes on to quote a Los Angeles Times article interview of Steve Tracy, a San Bernardino firefighters’ union rep, who claimed that unions had already “given up $10 million in concessions and went on to state that ‘the mayor and former city manager’s pet projects, including a call center and new movie theater downtown, as reasons for the $46-million deficit.’”

The Wall Street Journal discovered that San Bernardino had to cut its workforce by 20 percent in the last four years because the city’s “biggest creditors — workers and retirees — have been unwilling to renegotiate contracts and benefits.”

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

But it isn’t all bad news. The cities of San Diego and San Jose have been trying to head off financial disaster by reforming their public employee pensions. Recent elections showed that the public is solidly behind such efforts.

Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles Times reports that the unions will be taking their fight to court “saying they are concentrating their money and energy for the legal fight ahead. Labor groups in both cities have already filed lawsuits, and a police union in San Jose filed Wednesday.”

“We could have spent $100,000, $1 million, or $10 million trying to educate people and it wouldn’t have helped,” said Michael Zucchet, a former San Diego City Council member and now general manager of the Municipal Employees Association, to the Times.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

To make matters worse, some cities contemplating bankruptcy do not plan to stop there. Some are considering dissolution. The reasoning is simple — contract or share the services of neighboring communities and you don’t need to pay. No services, no employees, no hassles, no problems.

Except for their neighbors, of course. What would happen if Agua Dulce goes bankrupt and Santa Clarita must extend services to that community? Should we provide city services to Pacoima, Northridge and San Fernando? What would happen to our budget?

Yep. We’d go under, too. And the chain of bankruptcies will grow and multiply until the state itself is insolvent. Then what? A federal takeover by a broke Washington?

The problem is going to get far worse before it gets better. Unfortunately, bankruptcy may be the only recourse to excise the cancerous and intractable public service unions from our government.

There is probably no negotiation at this point. Union leaders will not negotiate and will not listen to reason. The rank-and-file membership is fully to blame for the promotion of unionist radicals into the upper echelons of their executive leadership.

And now, we are all going to pay. We will sit helplessly by and watch our Golden State burn.

Steve Wayne Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is now the leading stockholder in Wayne Industries. He can be reached at


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