Letters for January 15, 2015

Factor in public-worker perks

Re “What do Sacramento public employees really earn?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, January 8):

Always enjoyed your spot-on reporting, Cosmo, and I consider myself a big-time progressive, pro-union man. However, I believe your analysis comparing total pay for government employees versus comparable private-sector employees is incomplete.

Public-sector workers enjoy working in a government monopoly (either a state, city or county) that is enshrined in law. This monopoly cannot be fired, nor does it have to compete with other private or public institutions for business. As such, workers typically enjoy protections against layoffs and arbitrary firing, along with anti age-discrimination policies. Short of committing a crime or gross incompetence, a government worker is for the most part guaranteed a job 'til the time he or she decides to retire. I am constantly hearing from friends and acquaintances the exact year and month (many years in the future!) they will retire. In contrast, private-sector employees are working longer and longer hours just to earn a satisfactory performance review and reduce their chance of being laid off or fired.

I and others in the private sector have no guarantee of a job, must save tremendously for an uncertain retirement and cannot plan for any secure retirement date. We would gladly give up some hourly pay for career longevity and security that government workers enjoy. When discussing government worker pay, these factors need to be included.

Allan Weissman

via email

Don’t ban fracking

Re “Ban fracking” (SN&R Editorial, January 8):

When it comes to energy development, New York has nothing to teach California. We have passed tough regulations for hydraulic fracturing, including mandatory public disclosure of chemicals used, landowner notification and regular testing of water sources. Dozens of public hearings were held to carefully consider the abundant scientific research demonstrating that fracking is safe with manageable risks. President Barack Obama’s Secretary of the Interior recently told KQED that local fracking bans are “the wrong way to go.”

This is a sharp contrast to New York, where the state’s Department of Health admitted that it couldn’t find evidence that fracking is harmful. As the third largest consumer of gas and diesel on the planet, California has to use oil even as oil slowly decreases in importance in our overall energy mix. A ban on fracking would only lead to higher global carbon emissions, as the state would import more oil by rail and ship, from countries with more lax environmental regulations, and to more unemployment in the state’s most economically-troubled region, as well as less revenue to fund vital state programs.

Dave Quast

California director, Energy In Depth