Monday, September 7, 2009

Time to Seek Greener Grass?

It is looking more and more like things are going to get much worse before they ever start to get better. Projections today indicate the City of San Diego is facing a $100 million deficit next year. The mayor has already made promises to again cut positions throughout the city next year and this time around he has said fire and police will see the elimination of jobs as well. There will no doubt be further wage and benefit cuts and next year the 9% contribution to a newly created "Retiree Medical Trust" will begin for those employees who are six (6) years or more from retirement. The judge is sitting on the written decision from the June 27, 2009, hearing regarding the DROP and the City's desire to increase the age of entry into DROP. All of this has contributed to uncertainty and fear of what the future holds for those who are nearing age 50.

The first checks have been received that contain the latest round of cuts from the IMPOSED contract July 1st. The cuts far exceed the 6% stated by the mayor and people are quickly starting to realize what they are up against. A Detective Sergeant who is single saw a loss of $236.16 from take home pay, PER PAY DAY. This employee who is single paid out of pocket an additional $22.00 for medical insurance. The flexible benefits dollars provided by the City DID NOT cover this employees BASIC medical insurances. This same employee has seen an increase of retirement contribution balloon to $528.11 PER PAY DAY. Take the example of a Detective who is married saw a reduction of $307.53 from the take home pay of a month ago. Remember folks this is PER PAY DAY! The medical insurance for this employee increased $351.29 from the prior year. Life Insurance and voluntary contributions to Deferred Comp were eliminated completely. The contribution to retirement has ballooned to $305.84 PER PAY DAY.

Taking these two examples (I have these two employees pay stubs – prior to cut and post cut) the total loss to the Sergeant is $6,140.16 per year and the loss to the Detective is $13,730.86 PER YEAR. These are just two examples of the effects of the imposed contract. The losses these two employees are taking will never be recouped and each will face more cuts next year. Stop and think for a second; would you be capable of taking this type of reduction to your salary and continue to live the life you do? Some will say they should be thankful they have a job. Some will say they are sharing the pain like everyone else. The mayor will tout a pay raise the prior two years that makes it somehow OK for these types of cuts to be forced upon our officers. The mayor seems to have a very short term memory when it comes to the wages and benefits of police officers. The two prior years saw reductions in wages and benefits. The "raises" the mayor attempts to use as justification for cuts did not bring to even the wages and benefits of police officers from the prior cuts. San Diego Police Officers have been steadily moving backwards when comparing our wages and benefits to our prior years.

Next year the City of San Diego is going to be facing a deficit of over $100 million. Top that off by a mayor seeking to expand the Convention Center to the tune of almost ONE BILLION DOLLARS. Let's not forget the mayor's desire to build a new, City Hall for another cool ONE BILLION DOLLARS. OH, don't forget the desire to build a new downtown library for another cool $200 million and rising every day. This is all "Voluntary" building and taking on debt that is being added to the unfunded liability the City has for Employee Retirement contributions that are almost TWO BILLION DOLLARS today. I could go on with the list of expenditures the current city administration has taken on and squandered but it's getting late and I am not sure I would be able to do it and maintain civility.

Many experts would tell a company struggling and looking for ways to cut costs, to invest in the capabilities of their current workforce. They would suggest listening to their employees and trusting their knowledge of where cuts could be made to have the least impact on the ability to provide necessary services and at the same time reducing cost. To this end, Robert Haas, a business advisor – philanthropist makes the following observation, "To me, the idea of a person as a marionette whose arms and legs start moving whenever you pull the pay strings is too simplistic a notion of what motivates people in organizations." When an organization such as the City of San Diego cries poor while making plans to spend over TWO BILLION DOLLARS it does not have; while simultaneously cutting the wages and benefits of its employees you can understand why employees feel like this marionette.

The mayor has not separated the difference between "lean and mean" from "cheap and petty." His every action has revolved around politics and his refusal to be honest with the taxpayer. The mayor has proven to be EXTREMELY PETTY and MEAN SPIRITED in his actions toward employees of this City. He has been CHEAP with his willingness to compensate the employees who dedicate themselves to providing safety to the persons who live, work and visit San Diego. The mayor needs to take a page from Armand Hammer, CEO of Occidental Petroleum (Deceased) when he said, "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" when he talked about his ability to hire and retain the best people for his company.

The City of San Diego is already known for its world class zoo. The little rube talks about turning the San Diego Police Department into a "World Class Police Agency." If the City continues to pay peanuts, we will only reach world class status as a "City Zoo" full of monkeys who refuse to provide adequate public safety and soon after being trained leave for city's willing to throw in the basics such as bananas, housing, health care and a retirement plan that will allow them to live a comfortable life and receive what was promised.

As we head into next year, remember NOT to overlook small and seemingly insignificant negative actions from the mayor. The smallest of sparks can burn thousands of acres of land and destroy millions of lives. You have a choice and need to look forward and not dwell on the past. Keep an eye on where you are going and you will be OK. If you give others the power to dictate your path, you are merely a passive participant in your own life. There are two choices; taking control of the direction of your life or allowing the mayor and the city to control your fall into financial ruin. Which one will it be? The grass is greener where it is cultivated and watered. Is that San Diego or another City willing to give you that choice?


Gene said...

Sparky, I do not understand the mentality of "We can't pay the debt we are obligated for so lets spend another 1.5 billion" But what I dont undertand either is why would any company enter into a contract with the City of
SD given the history of habitually, intentionally not honoring the ocntracts they sign? Granted there is the early back slapping and handshaking at the press conferences when the contracts are signed, then the upfront monies to get the process underway, but after that, the City renegs on everything they say and do. Eventually with every contract the City enters into it is only the attorneys who get paid.

A little off topic, but for those of you that support the Mayors reduction of personnel in the PD/FF and their redcution in pay and benefits...the Mayor coined the phrase "We are trading experience for enthusiasm" as new officers at begininng pay levels are replacing tenured officers at higher pay rates, consider 5 officer involved shootings in 6 weeks! While all of the shootings appear to be legally justifiable, it is a by product of the economic times that officers are now, and will increasingly in the future, be exposed to more frequent situations where the decision to use levels force, including deadly force, is confronting them. The split second decision, with life altering consequensce is being left up to "rookies". Again the Yes,City saved a buck today by forcing 252 officers to leave the employ. What the City gained was 5 wrongful death lawsuits in the last 6 weeks, a growing mistrust for the Police Department (and Dist. Attorneys office as a result)overworked officers, and attorney fees that will be in the 10's of millions. But, hey, we saved a buck today!

Dawg53 said...

Things are definitley getting way out of hand. Don't look just at the Officer involved shootings. Look at the amount of murders in the same time frame. Who knows how many other shootings, stabbings and robbies have occured as well.

As for the money, at least the city is cutting back on the Padre tickets they have. Oh yeah that doesn't matter. I know people in my situation (married to another officer) have it good when things go well with the city. But when times are tough they are really tough. We take double the hit and it hasn't been pretty the last few years.

I just loved hearing Sanders complaining about having to send his adult daughters to college. I had to adjust my budget big time to afford public preschool for one son. And I am still paying off my own college loans.

going green after 11 years said...

I take home $411.18 less a freeking payday with this latest contract. I am one of those leaving. My process is almost complete and I will be gone by the middle of next month. My idiot Lieutenant told me I was stupid to leave and make $742 A PAY DAY MORE THAN I DO TODAY. The ONLY thing I give up is DROP. That is NOT a big deal anymore. Medical (100%) retirement contribution ALL paid by my new agency with 3 at 50 and still working 4/10's and all the overtime I want to work. Besides a uniform allowance they give me ALL of my equipment and uniforms when I start.
Screw Sanders and the city of San Diego. Wake up people there are city's out there who value cops.

Anonymous said...

I'm also jumping off this sinking ship! I'm leavng for better pay and benefits, but mostly to escape from this dysfunctional law enforcement / public safety organization. I will miss my peers, but not the supervision and (mis)management of the SDPD and City of San Diego.

Be safe. Cover one another. Don't "advise" on calls - wait for cover.

Anonymous said...

I will soon be leaving SDPD and taking my family to a more
friendly City and State.

I have lined up a teaching job. We will now be able to have my wife stay at home and raise our children.

Law enforcement is a noble profession, but unappreciated in San Diego.

Anonymous said...

William Lansdowne is a great politician. He is two-faced and speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He is not an honest man. He is not trustworthy nor is he a leader. He is not a man of honor, and lacks integrity. He is a horrible police chief.

Chief Lansdowne, where is our 100% staffing you promised? Where is our pay parity, which you promised? Under your reign of terror, we have lost both pay and personnel. SDPD went from a first class law enforcement agency, to its current pitiful existence.

SDPD had its last true leader under William Kolender. After Kolender left, the agency began a slow deterioration. The deterioration accelerated under Chief Sanders, and also now under the control of Mayor Sanders. Committee upon committee, indecisiveness and the favoritism and promotion of “Jerry’s Kids” significantly contributed to the decline and fall of the once great SDPD.

SDPD is truly dysfunctional. The agency lacks leadership and mature experienced personnel to mentor as well as properly manage complex criminal investigations. Patrol, Investigations and Administration all play equally important roles in making a successful organization. SDPD is smoke and mirrors. This absolutely kills an organization.

Speaking as a 27 year SDPD employee, I can honestly say I have never seen morale as low as it is today. We have a lack of leadership, micromanagers, and fools leading the organization. Heaven help us.

In a few months I will be retiring, not disgruntled just disappointed to see the current condition of a once fine law enforcement organization. Disappointed in the lack of leadership and support from our command staff, as they live in fear of the mayor. Theirs is a life of self preservation instead of supporting the troops. They live in fear of their own shadow. And oh, how they have aged! Enough said. Be safe.

Anonymous said...

Hello, 7th floor, are you listening? Oh wait, we must first run out to another press conference to be paraded around like the puppets we have become. Or better yet, let's go play on police motorcycles at the fairgrounds...Oh, a photo op!!

Some great people and true leaders with a lot of talent are looking elsewhere and leaving as soon as they can. This department has degraded to a circus sideshow... I can't wait to move on!

Anonymous said...

Sparky, I have been following your posts since just before the city imposed there Last and Final on us. This last post is one I just have to throw my two cents in. Like everyone else we have taken the same hit in pay but double that because both my husband and I work for SDPD. I would leave in a heart beat but am in a position where I can not start over with another agency! I can only hang on and hope for the best. We took a total of a 17% hit close to about 500 to 600 a month.

Just wanted you to know that I thank you for all your insight and opinions on all the issues you bring into your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm is this another loss... I see the court has finally posted it's order regarding the hearing on DROP in July...

Part of the ruling includes the following:

The Police Officers Association’s Cross-Petition for a writ of mandamus is denied;

The Police Officers Association’s petition for a preliminary injunction preventing the City from increasing the DROP entry age from age 50 to age 55 is denied, without prejudice.

The Police Officers Association’s petition for a preliminary injunction to bar adjustment to DROP interest rates is denied.

Anonymous said...


It just keeps getting better!

Next year, I'll have to pay the City to work for them.

Anonymous said...

Here is another interesting comment... this one comes from Pat Match, a CALPERS spokesperson. To put this comment into context, questions have been raised repeatedly over the safety employee's (police and fire) superior pension benefits. That is higher pension rates due to a higher mortality rate at younger ages than general government workers. In other words are your benefits actuarially sustainable or should they be lowered to the same rate as other employees? This is another attack on your pension benefits! Here is the comment:

"ONE MORE TIME: CalPERS has never said that we do not have data. We have records on 1.6 million members. We were asked if we could provide a report on firefighters. We went to our actuaries who said the last analysis of any kind that dealt with firefighters was a report in 2004 that analyzed safety as a group but not by subgroups -- it didn't spit out data by firefighters, or CHP, or police separately -- [The]characterization that we don't have sufficent data within our databases of 2300 employers and 1.6 million people is a misrepresentation of what we have said. As I mentioned to Chris, our actuaries do these studies every four years, and in fact, this fall, because of interest in this topic, I have been assured the report to be published later in the year will have a separate analysis of police and firefighter. As one who has dealt with databases and statistics, you will appreciate the difference between having 1.6 million records of data of all kinds in n a system and whether there was a report teasing out specific types of data that is analyzed by professionals. It's coming soon. Stay tuned."

When CALPERS makes this report available, later this year as the author points out, you should carefully read and understand it. IF this report concludes that police and fire workers live substantially the same length of time in retirement as general workers you will find your safety pension under a new attack. You will see either an effort to reduce the benefit to the same levels of general employees, or substantial increase in your contributions to keep the same level of pension benefits.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice to know what Jerry says? Today, 9/15 he said:

...the city won't shy away from major projects -- from a new downtown library to a Convention Center expansion to a new City Hall -- despite the recession and a potential $100 million budget deficit next year.

"Each of these projects is moving forward in a deliberate and thoughtful way, and gaining support at every stage, not just because they mean jobs for San Diegans, but because they make sense for San Diego," Sanders said, according to an advance copy of his first major speech since January.

Nice to know especially when we don't have a contract and are losing cops at an alarming rate.