We’re all busy, but we’re never too busy to keep up with the latest trends in local government. I’ve saved you the work by highlighting four news items from Southern California. (And yes, California is still one state….for now)
1. Real Change Movement: Pasadena, California using parking meters as donation boxes for the homeless and Lancaster, California plan to shut down and possibly relocate its current Metrolink Train Station saying it is being used for homeless train hopping from Los Angeles.
Quick Take: Homelessness continues to be an area of focus in many Southern California cities and where innovative solutions could be the only answer, especially with such little monetary resources and the shareomplexity of the homeless issue. Does a City run away from the problem or run towards the problem? Or is there a balance between the two? Homelessness has a direct impact on cities, yet the funding necessary to address the problem comes from the county and/or state level. To further complicate the issue, it is not only addressing the lack of shelter and food but also involves probable medical and/or psychological needs of the individuals.
2. Cash Money: Los Angeles, California recently approved a $15.37/hr minimum wage for hotel workers and is trying for a $13.25 minimum wage for all others.
Quick Take: Minimum wage is an increasingly, much-debated and talked about issue. Los Angeles is one of the first, if not the first, Southern California cities to face this debate head-on and pass new laws increasing minimum wage and setting precedence for other cities to follow. One side argues about the ability to survive on such low wages and the other side argues that these increases will hurt the economy and, in the end, hurt those receiving minimum wage when companies downsize and lay workers off. Believe we will hear and read more and more about this in the coming months.
3. Broke as a Joke: Stockton, California bankruptcy decision presents a scary reality to public employee’s future retirement security and Southern California cities take to the polls for voters to decide fate of retirement benefits.
Quick Take: San Diego, California voters unanimously approved significant pension reform in 2012 with Measure B. This seemed to be the start of voters in Southern California using the ballot to voice their anger over public retirement benefits. In this November election, Yorba Linda, California approved a measure that reduces pension for City Council members. As public dissent continues about public pensions and cities struggle to provide enhanced services due to financial constraints, I believe this trend will continue in Southern California. Also, the recent Stockton bankruptcy decision as it relates to pensions creates a new potential problem in local governments and their employees. For local governments this could create a problem attracting and retaining talent and for employees it raises the scary reality that our retirement benefit we have today may not be the same tomorrow.
Let’s end this update to the series on a high note!
4. Ridin’ the Silver Tsunami: Palmdale, California is in the development stages of a Leadership Development Program and has begun offering ICMA webinars to all staff for career development. Like other cities in Southern California, Palmdale has been weak in the area of succession planning and career development but fully recognizes the value and is making a concerted effort to turn this area of weakness around and help develop the future leaders of the organization and provide opportunities for career advancement. Way to go Palmdale!