Judith Miller now an expert in...California pension reform?

In September, Tablet magazine caused an awful lot of confusion when it announced that Judith Miller would become a theater critic for the Jewish publication--confusing because during her more than 25 years at the New York Times, she had written about the Middle East, bioterrorism, weapons of mass destruction, etc. Indeed, the Manhattan Institute, where she has been since 2007, lists counterterrorism, national security, the Middle East and civil liberties as Judith Miller’s areas of expertise.

However, this week Miller wrote a piece for the think tank’s City Journal on the role of pension reform in the San Francisco mayoral election, with particular attention to mayoral candidate Jeff Adachi’s commitment to turning pension reform “from a conservative talking point into a mainstream cause in liberal San Francisco.”

The care of the city, as Miller put it, is at the expense of an unaffordable public pension plan.

The streets are filled with potholes that the city can’t afford to fix. Though the city earns much of its income from tourism, since 2010 it has imposed stiff fines for parking on the street during holidays, much to the concern of local businesses. For the second summer in a row, San Francisco has been unable to offer summer school to some 10,000 public school students because of a $1 million budget cut in the program. School budget cuts cause particular concern, since the city’s poorly rated school system is often cited as a major cause (along with a stagnant economy and high unemployment) of the flight of middle-class residents with children. Last year, the city’s parks budget was cut in half, while spending on services for seniors and those with AIDS was reduced by 30 percent. San Francisco taxpayers now spend one out of every six tax dollars on city employee benefits, Adachi says.

Even if Adachi is to lose the election, the effort is not lost. The Manhattan Institute has dedicated significant resources to both pension reform and political and policy issues in California.

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He blogs and hosts a podcast at governmentality.net and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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