Our city's looming pension debt is looming directly overhead these days, and even though any shade is welcome this time of year, I'm still totally against looming. Why all the looming? Because we've had slow revenue growth, soaring entitlement costs and too many pesky retirees remembering to check their mail.
Although the cop who stopped me last month for a malfunctioning headlight made me cry like Reese Witherspoon, I believe our public workers deserve our respect and yes, their entire pension left in a paper bag, no funny business, under the Fourth Avenue underpass.
And that is why I'm accepting the mayor's invitation to chair the pension reform task force. He hasn't offered the position yet, but he will. Why? Because I enjoy irritating people.
You can't ask for a bigger plus for an idiot wading into pension reform. Trust me on this. Whatever proposals our task force comes up with, you are going to hate it. I come to the position pre-hated and full of swell ideas.
What exactly is wrong with the city's pension system? I was surprised to learn the city's pension fund is a mixed portfolio of bonds, celery stalks and chocolate coins wrapped in tinfoil. The fund was run by leprechauns, but they were undocumented and had to go.
It is now kept under a mattress.
Councilwoman Regina Romero said the cost of the city's pension has gone up by more than 250 percent since disco ruled. I have no idea what that means because I didn't attend University High, but I can tell you we got "Pension Problems" right here in River City and "pension" is spelled with a "P" and that rhymes with "T" and that spells "Trouble."
As I see it, the system has three problems:
• First, there are too many retirees sucking off the teat, which they worked hard all of their lives to drain bone-dry by driving their RVs from one casino to the next and stealing my seat at the slot machine. You can clearly see this is a problem since the average cow only has four teats per udder. If the city could triple its teats we'd be in great shape. Unfortunately our Legislature banned teat cloning this last session.
• Second, there are too few workers paying into the system and that public employee is named Officer Frank and he is deeply concerned that he will never see his family again, let alone a cow with one teat.
• The third problem is the money itself. All across America, cities and counties are running low on cash because they "just needed a drink on the way home and now you're hassling us to buy groceries for Grandma."
Fortunately, we have many sound options to consider, and those optional sounds sound very much like wailing, moaning and crying.
Further study is the first option, but since we're out of clipboards, let's move on to option No. 2: Hide the money and tell the retirees a dog took it. I like this idea, but wily retirees with the instincts of Miss Marple may catch on.
The city could always ask workers to contribute more of their income into the system. Oh, that was good for a laugh! Let me catch my breath! Hoo boy. I needed that chuckle.
I'd suggest we ask retirees to take a cut in benefits, but too many knee slappers like the last one are going to give me a cardiac.
Let's move on to the most practical and cost-effective option, which I guarantee will fix our pension system in one year: Offer city retirees incentives to die as soon as possible.
That's right, Grandpa Walton, when you hear the benefits you'll want to scratch that Laughlin road trip off your bucket list and sign up for Tucson's newest cost-saving program: "Kick the Bucket."
Under my plan, if you're a city pensioner, and you die today, you'll receive:
• An obituary paid for by the city and a cremation urn made from an orange road cone!
• Your remains will be "recycled" courtesy of the Environmental Services Department, you'll be interred at Reid Park Golf Course and you'll get a glowing eulogy custom-written and delivered by Mayor Rothschild himself.
• If you expire before this offer expires, or the city's pension system implodes, our Transportation Department will pave your next of kin's driveway absolutely free!
For the good of Officer Frank, who is looking forward to a happy, but hopefully brief retirement, and for the good of your city we are depending on you to do what you have always done. Put others first.
Email Star cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org