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Proposition 61: Salary Limits

October 25, 1986

Steve Tezber's letter (Oct. 15) in response to your editorial stated that there are no "quality people, by definition, . . . in government."

As a deputy city attorney, I know from experience that he is quite wrong. Most judges and public lawyers are skilled attorneys who could quite comfortably engage in private law practice anywhere, but instead have sought job satisfaction from contributing to the protection and betterment of our society.

These judges and lawyers, not to mention so many other law enforcement professionals, are quality people, and not by definition, but because of hard work, training, intelligence and dedication. The same thing is true of our public doctors, engineers and so many others who serve our community.

As a public lawyer, I am particularly concerned about criminal prosecution. Ensuring that criminals get what they deserve and that the rights of crime victims are protected are matters essential to the public good. It does not make any sense for the public to vote to drastically cut the salaries of many law enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors. However, that is precisely what Proposition 61 would do.

If Proposition 61 passes, a large number of experienced law enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors will leave public service and other "quality people" will be very hard to recruit. Ultimately, the public will lose. Our society will be ill-served by public officials and lawyers unable to effectively apprehend and prosecute criminal defendants, and by judges incapable of comprehending and applying the law in serious and complex criminal cases.

Contrary to Tezber's simplistic notions, capable public employees are a precious resource to society; however, Proposition 61 would encourage them to leave public service, and discourage others from wanting to serve. Far from providing any benefit, Proposition 61 would do great harm to every member of our society.


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