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Forum focuses on County pension problems

In more robust economic times, it's doubtful a forum on government worker pensions would have nearly filled the pews at the 300-seat Glaser Center on Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa.

But with taxpayer-paid retirement costs for county employees up 360 percent since 2000 by county estimates, people from all walks showed up Thursday to ask what can be done.

"Houston, we have a problem," said Jack Atkin, Sonoma County Taxpayers Association president.

Atkin was among the panelists at the educational forum hosted by Sonoma County Supervisors Shirlee Zane and David Rabbitt.

Atkin and Rabbitt were joined on the panel by Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa; Sonoma State University Professor Robert Eyler; Cynthia Murray, a former Marin County supervisor and head of the North Bay Leadership Council; and Bill Steck, former director of Service Employees International Union Local 1021. Zane moderated.

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