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January 12, 2013 | By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
In another life, William Fulton was "Drop Zone Bill," a bounty hunter who ran a military surplus store in Anchorage. You need a tactical vest? A bayonet that would clip neatly onto an M-4? Bill Fulton was your man. "We do bad things to bad people," his company jackets said. Fulton was also a go-to guy for Republican politicians who occasionally needed to reach out to the far right fringes of the party - those who spent weekends in the woods in camo gear and considered the 2nd Amendment an expression of divine intent.
October 9, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
At a time when public-sector unions across the country are fighting to hold on to generous retirement and health benefits, one of the loudest voices standing up for their rights is Dave Low. A longtime labor activist, Low carries considerable clout as executive director of the California School Employees Assn., a 215,000-member union that represents bus drivers, custodians and other school workers. He also leads a broader group of 1.5 million government employees, including firefighters, police and teachers, called Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security.
October 6, 2012 | By Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times
ATHENS - With a new batch of budget cuts looming, Greek officials have made it clear that they must target the state's nearly 1-million-strong army of civil servants, shaving salaries, benefits and bonuses for the third time in three years. "We're doomed," says social worker Dmitra, 44, who asked that her last name not be printed for fear of reprisals. "Whoever said we were privileged and protected?" And yet, many Greeks emphatically contend that government workers are protected.
August 28, 2012 | By Anthony York and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
Gov. Jerry Brown announced a new plan Tuesday to rein in public pension costs that would raise the retirement age, cap benefits for the highest-paid employees and eliminate "spiking" - but lacks key parts of the bolder system overhaul he proposed months ago and would even increase some payouts. The governor described as "radical change" the program he and lawmakers agreed upon to address what has become a heavy burden on state and local governments and generated voter anger over rich benefits for government workers.
July 17, 2012 | By Steven Malanga
Now that three California cities have declared bankruptcy, perhaps it's time to consider the lessons of Wisconsin. One of the reasons Wisconsin Democrats couldn't unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the state's recall election was that his challenger exemplified how Walker's narrowing of collective bargaining privileges for government workers benefited the state. As mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett had relied on Walker's reforms to balance his city's budget. And Barrett wasn't alone among Wisconsin officials.
June 10, 2012 | By Morgan Little
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, triumphant in Tuesday's recall election, offered advice to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during an appearance on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “Gov. Romney has a shot if the 'R' doesn't stand for Republican, but reformer,” Walker said, touting his role in changing Wisconsin's policy toward public worker unions and government spending. “I don't think we win if it's just a referendum on Barack Obama. I think people like Paul Ryan and others hope that he [Romney]
May 9, 2012 | By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
Voters in North Carolina on Tuesday approved Amendment One, a fiercely debated and highly restrictive amendment to the state constitution that defines marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman. The amendment not only outlaws same-sex marriage - already illegal in the state - but bans civil unions and domestic partnerships for gay or straight couples. Family law experts say it will threaten domestic partnership health benefits for local government workers and strip unmarried couples, both gay and straight, of their rights to make financial or emergency medical decisions for an incapacitated partner.
March 28, 2012 | By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
There are many reasons to watch NBC's marvelously funny "Parks and Recreation," but at this point I only need one: Ron Swanson. Swanson is played by Nick Offerman, an actor blessed with a deeply melodious voice and wickedly expressive eyebrows who has mastered, if not invented, the art of over-the-top understatement. But Swanson is a sum of several parts - an exquisite creation of Offerman's talent, but also of writing and directing, of hair, makeup and wardrobe. And I love him with all my heart.
February 24, 2012 | By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
In a short but fiery presidential campaign speech, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday called on voters to prepare for battle to protect the country's future. Government opponents and foreign influences are threatening to weaken Russia, Putin told tens of thousands of people at a rally in Moscow held on Defender of the Fatherland Day, a national holiday known as Red Army Day during the Soviet era. "We won't allow anybody to interfere with our internal affairs and we won't allow anybody to impose his will on us because we have a will of our own!"
January 23, 2012 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
It's the norm in January: After the governor proposes a new budget and delivers his State of the State address, legislators slide into hibernation until spring. Oh, there's some rustling around in the dens — a few committee hearings, brief floor sessions — but no strenuous activity, no risk taking until May, when deadlines sprout and the governor revises his budget proposal. Not every year follows that pattern — last March, the governor and the Legislature made sharp spending cuts — but winter 2012 has all the signs of the rhythmic long nap. So it's not surprising that there seems to be a look of lethargy among legislators concerning the sensitive issue of public employee pensions.
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