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The L.A. Times featured a front-page story today titled, “Private Sector Anger Builds as Public Pension Costs Rise.”

The article takes a snapshot of an escalating debate over pensions in New Jersey, one that has even some union leaders chiming in against the defined-benefit plans.

The story is pretty straightforward – the guaranteed nature of public employees’ future pension benefits is irking many people whose retirement plans fluctuate with their investments.

Here’s how saleswoman Nancy Burwell of Morristown, N.J., characterizes her frustration:

“We don’t expect anybody else to help us out; we take care of it ourselves,” Burwell said. “I really resent these public workers. Why should I pay for their retirement?”

That backlash against public employee pension is playing out quite visibly in San Diego, too. Most of the 11 candidates for mayor last summer focused their financial recovery platform on “standing up to the unions” – or some similar catchphrase – in hopes of forcing workers to roll back their retirement benefits.

In the coming election, Mayor Jerry Sanders is also banking on that public sentiment to achieve victory for Proposition B, his proposal to require a citywide vote before employees’ pension benefits are increased. We’ll find out Nov. 7 whether the resentment found in New Jersey rings true in San Diego.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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