I love Twitter!!! I am sitting on the couch switching between basketball playoffs and the Sunday Night Baseball game, when my Blackberry pings a message from Twitter. I look at the message that says, "VoiceofSanDiego: Bombshell Dropped on Labor Plan, Putting Savings in Peril: Changes to DROP." I'm thinking to myself, what now? I click on the link and start to read the article when I can feel my blood pressure start to spike. I am thinking all types of things that I can't write in these pages as I read the words of Jay Goldstone. I have had to edit and then re-edit this post to remove the profane language and extremely caustic manner I used to address the latest lies to come out of the mayor's office by way of Goldstone. If you have not had an opportunity to read the article by Rani Gupta in the Voice of San Diego; "Bombshell Dropped on Labor Plan, Putting Savings in Peril" it is a must read. It has taken a while, but it appears Voice of San Diego and Gupta have finally started seeing what we all know; if the mayor or one of his minion's are speaking; they are NOT TELLING YOU THE TRUTH!!!!
Case in point; the latest round of labor negotiations and the mayor's actions related to the changes to DROP and the blatant lies before, during and now after the fact. The mayor and his henchmen entered negotiations with a set of demands they expected from the five labor groups and NOTHING, including the law was going to get in their way. From the start, the City violated the Myers, Milias, Brown Act (MMBA) which governs collective bargaining. The City was participating in unfair labor practices by the manner they conducted themselves during these negotiations. AFSME Local 127 has filed an "Unfair Labor Practice" complaint with the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) for the actions of the City during their negotiations. The SDPOA does not have the protections afforded AFSME and is not protected by PERB.
Half way through negotiations, the City's Negotiators (The mayor hired the firm
"Burke, Williams & Sorenson" to provide legal services and lead negotiations with the five labor groups in the City. Attorneys William Kay and Timothy Davis of "Burke, Williams & Sorenson" lead separate teams for the City during the negotiations with the five labor groups) served the SDPOA notice of the City's intent to sue the SDPOA regarding DROP. An act clearly indented to shut down negotiations and allow the mayor to impose a contract he knew would fuel an exodus of the most senior, experienced and knowledgeable of the Police Department. The mayor's intent was to rid the City of as many officers as possible who had more than 25 years service. This would further increase the savings the mayor and wrecking crew were seeking.
During negotiations the SDPOA Board of Directors held fast and refused to engage the City in negotiations related to DROP. The SDPOA rightly asserted DROP was a vested benefit and could not be bargained away and thus refused every attempt by the City's negotiations team to engage in discussions to remove, alter, or in any other manner change DROP. The City in prior negotiations made similar attempts at bringing DROP into the discussions during negotiations and were quickly rebuffed. Then comes revelations from SDCERS that they would not follow the mayor's lead in violating the Charter and law, related to DROP and the changes the mayor was demanding. Not a word from the mayor or his office for well over a week. Maybe someone finally got tired of the silence and started pushing some buttons?
Rani Gupta wrote an article in Sundays Voice of San Diego about "a much-ballyhooed set of compensations cuts to address the city's financial woes, changes to the city's controversial deferred retirement program were a major part of the mix." Gupta outlined clearly the issues surrounding the mayor's efforts to change, alter and eliminate DROP. She then talked to Jay Goldstone and asked about SDCERS actions and what impact their refusal to implement those changes proposed in the latest contracts would have on the budget. Goldstone told Gupta it was news to the mayor changes to DROP would require a vote of the members of SDCERS (LIE NUMBER ONE). Gupta writes; "It was a bombshell that was dropped after the fact," Goldstone said. "I'm not necessarily suggesting we would have taken a different position, but we would have known going in that the imposition was only step one of a two-step process."
If for a second there is anyone in San Diego who believes this ignorant attempt at playing dumb, I want to pay for your psychological help. This was a "bombshell" that was "dropped after the fact?" What flavor of kool-aid is the mayor giving his people?
Gupta goes on to write; Goldstone said it "would have been nice" if Goldsmith's office had told city officials about the requirement beforehand. He added, "I will tell you candidly, they will claim they told us and told our lawyers at least, our negotiators, but we (in the Mayor's Office) were not aware up here." (LIE NUMBER TWO)
This is where my blood pressure began to rise significantly and I could feel the blood boiling in my veins. Words (I can use here) escape me as I try to formulate a response to this bold faced, totally and completely false statement. The arrogance and complete disregard for the truth is appalling and a clear window into the thought processes of the mayor and his people. The mayor knew; his people knew, Bill Kay knows; Joan Dawson (City Attorney) knows; Timothy Davis should know; Scott Chadwick knows and others in the City Attorney's Office know changes to DROP or anything to do with Retirement Benefits are protected by the Charter and cannot be unilaterally changed as demanded by the mayor.
Then things get even worse. Goldstone can't help himself. He does after all work for the mayor and as the saying goes monkey see, monkey do. Goldstone calls Gupta back and she recounts the next chapter of lies. Gupta writes; "Several hours later, after a reporter called for comment from the city attorney, Goldstone called back to offer a different version of events, saying a conversation with the city attorney had refreshed his memory about the situation. Goldstone said that the city's outside attorneys from the firm Burke Williams & Sorensen had talked to SDCERS officials during negotiations and, based on those conversations, had advised that the city had a "very strong argument" that the provision of the city charter requiring a vote didn't apply to the changes the city was seeking to make to DROP. The City Attorney's Office, Goldstone said, never told city officials or even strongly suggested that changing DROP required an employee vote." (LIE NUMBER THREE)
Several hours after trying to cover the mayor's large behind, damage control and shifting of blame (A common theme of the mayor) to someone else is beginning in earnest. Now Goldstone is shifting blame from the City Attorney, to Bill Kay and Timothy Davis of Burke Williams & Sorenson. Does Goldstone think no one is going to follow up on what he is spewing? Does he think everyone is going to roll over and allow him to scratch their bellies, while he lays blame on the easy patsy? It does not stop here!!!
Gupta continues; "Goldsmith wouldn't comment on whether his office weighed in on the issue and wouldn't say what Burke Williams & Sorensen -- which is also handling the city's DROP lawsuit -- said about the issue. Bill Kay, an attorney with the firm, said he couldn't comment on what advice his firm gave the city because of attorney-client confidentiality.
But SDCERS' administrator and CEO, David Wescoe, said his staff never talked to the city or its outside attorneys about the issue during the bargaining process. "We never advised them or gave them any advice during meet and confer at all," he said." So who do we believe? Goldsmith won't comment and neither will Bill Kay. The collective covering of asses is now starting to get out of hand. The attorney's are all hiding behind, "Attorney-Client" privilege. Goldstone is not an attorney but should hide behind his bosses behind and keep his mouth shut. He should let the mayor do the talking and let him be the one who lies to the press, taxpayer and then have to repeat these lies in court when he takes the stand to tell what he knows and when he knew it. The paper trail is long and detailed.
The paper trail I am referring to is spelled out by Gupta in the following; "Retirement system officials say they gave fair warning to city officials about the city charter provision back in 2006, when Wescoe sent a letter to the mayor saying SDCERS couldn't implement the results of the 2005 bargaining process without an employee vote." There is much more in the way of written documentation related to this issue that clearly shows the mayor and his staff was well aware of the Charter requirements and its applicability to DROP. Gupta follows with; "City officials said they knew about that requirement but didn't believe it applied to DROP because they considered DROP workers to be retirees, not active employees. (LIE NUMBER FOUR)
Wescoe pointed out that the municipal code makes clear that DROP employees are considered active employees. In any case, the recently approved changes apply to employees who haven't entered DROP. "It's crystal clear," Wescoe said, "which is why I'm surprised that they're surprised." The retirement system's general counsel recently sent a letter to Deputy City Attorney Joan Dawson indicating that Dawson agreed with the conclusion that the DROP changes require a vote. Dawson declined to comment."
Did anyone catch that; "City officials said they knew about that requirement but didn't believe it applied to DROP because they considered DROP workers to be retirees, not active employees." Come again? What City official said this? Goldstone? The mayor? Who? This is another example of the ignorance and arrogance of "City officials" working in the mayor's office.
In the last passage it is clear Joan Dawson in the City Attorney's Office was aware or made aware of the requirements of Charter Section 143.1. There is clear documentation the City Attorney's Office was aware of the requirements of the Charter and shared the information with the mayor's office. What is also clear is the mayor did not like the answer and shopped for an attorney who would provide him the answer he needed to make the political changes to employee's benefits he was and is hell bent on eliminating. It is after all part of the "Master Plan" of the Downtown Establishment; Republican Contingent; Union Tribune and Republican Mayors across America.
This is but the start of the collapse of the house of cards the mayor built. He will not be able to sustain the lies and deceit as the papers start to surface and the truth is known. The blame game has started and there will be no end to it, if history repeats itself; knowing how the mayor works. His tyrannical methods will soon cause his downfall and ouster from City Hall. It cannot come soon enough. The City is facing an astronomical deficit and the mayor's posturing has done nothing to help address the problem. Politics have no place in the realities of the critical issues created by incompetence and arrogance. It is time the mayor cease the destruction of this City and hand the keys to someone who cares about the City and the employees.