Neither confirmed nor denied

Is health care for city retirees in danger?” asks the local daily today in an above-the-fold front-page story. (Those wishing to view the piece may be required to log in.) City of Austin officials willing to speak for attribution are noncommital, to say the least.

The 2,500 or so former employees reported to be retired and receiving benefits must include a good proportion of public servants who made Austin work back when it did.

Thirty years ago, Austinites enjoyed trash collection twice a week, street-sweeping once a week, police patrols daily and more often when homeowners were away, libraries that were open at least six days a week and that had new books on the shelves and generous newspaper and magazine subscriptions, flowers everywhere (even on traffic islands and dividers), and swimming pools that didn’t close when it was still hot as all get-out.

Sure; we lacked a “public information officer” for every two-bit City department and there was no police helicopter flying low overhead shining lights in windows and waking people up in the middle of the night. People lived downtown, and inexpensively, in all those little houses that are now offices if they haven’t been demolished.

Whatever the City decides to do about future retirees or new hires, it doesn’t seem fair even to consider changing the terms and conditions for people who served Austin’s citizens well when compensation truly was low.

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