The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

June 17, 2010
A trifecta of firsts: World Cup, oil and pensions


We saw a string of "firsts" on Tuesday.

The most improbable, perhaps: New Zealand, not known as a soccer power, earned its first-ever point in the World Cup. A last-minute goal gave the All Whites a draw against Slovakia on Tuesday.

Winston Reid's header in stoppage time prompted him to take off his shirt and wave it around in celebration (shown in the AFP/Getty Images photo above). He drew a yellow card, but he didn't care, and there was also much exultation back home. The Kiwis can even dream of making it to the second round.

The most intriguing, definitely: President Barack Obama's first speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday evening. For the subject matter, he chose the Gulf oil spill -- an ecological and economic catastrophe for the Gulf states and an increasingly damaging political loser for Obama.

According to most reviews, however, he failed to issue any groundbreaking plan or stirring call to action worthy of the most powerful setting the president has. "Blah" rather than bold, opined Gail Collins of The New York Times.

The most consequential, potentially: The first breakthrough in California pension reform, reached in the wee hours Tuesday and announced Wednesday.

If approved by the rank-and-file and the Legislature, the deal between the Schwarzenegger administration and four unions would only reduce benefits for new hires and save a relatively paltry $72 million in the 2010-11 budget.

More importantly, as The Bee's editorial board pointed out today, it is a significant first step and could set an encouraging precedent for other state and local unions. If similar labor agreements can be hammered out, there could be real savings for taxpayers and real momentum toward common sense on pensions.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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