The Oakland Tribune is refusing to endorse either of Union City’s two City Council candidates.
In an editorial earlier this week, the newspaper likened both incumbent Jim Navarro and challenger Jose Estrella to “deer lost in headlights,” especially when it came to financial responsibility.
While the editorial knocks Estrella for his vague platform and general lack of knowledge, the Tribune team spends most of its space slamming Navarro, who they say after serving two terms in office is still clueless about Union City’s employee retirement program debt.
The Tribune writes:
The retirement programs are short $96 million. That's nearly five years of city payroll, excluding overtime. It works out to about $1,364 for each Union City resident.
It's a debt for benefits employees have already earned. It should have been funded, just like salaries, at the time the workers provided the labor. Instead, the city treats it like a credit card balance, which it plans to stretch out for decades, making future generations pay for the financial sins of their elders.
Did Navarro, after eight years on the City Council, understand this? Actually, he told us that the city is in the black.
It's like saying that a household budget is balanced because a family is making the minimum payments on its astronomical credit card bills. In Union City's case, it makes most of the minimum payments, but not even all of them.
But what about the credit card balance, the $96 million? Navarro had no idea it existed. Most elected officials at least understand that their cities face unfunded liabilities for their retirement programs. It's what drives the entire discussion about pension reform.
Not Navarro. Read the full editorial here).
This is a little unsettling because, let’s face it, Estrella doesn’t stand a chance against Navarro. Navarro's popularity in the community makes him a shoo-in for a third term. Even if there were a qualified contender, Union City voters would still likely re-elect Navarro because Union City doesn’t like change.
Many of our local leaders have been in office for years. The same candidates get re-elected and the election seasons conclude with little fanfare.
While we’re not promoting or bashing either candidate ourselves, the Tribune editorial does make us wonder: Have we just been following blindly, or are we looking at the real issues when we vote?
We want to know: Who are you voting for and why? What are the local issues that matter to you? Tell us in the comments section below.