Thursday, December 10, 2009

A “Little Rube” Pull Toy

Today I was chatting with several others when someone described the little rube as nothing more than one of those dolls kids play with that have a pull string that when pulled plays one of several recorded messages; "We need to reduce inefficiencies" "We need to cut out the waste in government" "We need to start with labor costs" "We need to focus on pension reform and retiree medical reforms" "We need to reform fringe benefits and hold the line on wages" "Efficiency for the lowest cost should be governments obligation." I started to laugh and then it hit me; he's right!

I have always felt the little rube is nothing more than a "one trick pony" that uses simple, short catch phrases that draw people's attention. The phrases he uses in every conversation he engages in are the same and always follow the same theme; "Pension Reform" "Retiree Medical Reform" "Government Efficiency" "Reduce Labor Costs" are the lead phrase of every conversation. Sneak up behind him; find the string; give it a yank; and hear it for yourself.

I was doing my usual search for stories about the goings on at city hall when I came across a Twitter post from the little rube, "carldemaio Drink champagne (or just want reform at City Hall)? Join me for a fundraiser this Saturday at my house." (You will need a facebook account to access the link to his party) The little rube is inviting people to his home, "Help Carl DeMaio reform city government by attending this important fundraiser at his personal home in Rancho Bernardo. Proceeds benefit Carl's 2010 campaign to pass two key ballot initiatives." The little rube is plotting, planning and pushing his own agenda and will stop at nothing to ensure success. Watch for a pension reform initiative in the very near future.

Yesterday was an example of why politics are wrecking San Diego. The outcome of yesterday's action by the city council in eliminating the 80+ civilian positions from the police department will have a profound effect on our ability to provide public safety services to the taxpayer. The cuts were made by the mayor to the civilian support members of the department so he could stand up and proclaim no "Sworn Officers" were laid off. The general public was then lead to believe the positions being eliminated would allow the budget deficit to be eliminated and they would not notice an impact. What the mayor and others failed to tell the public was the duties carried out by these civilian support personnel will now be carried out by sworn police officers at a much greater cost. The cost to accomplish these duties just drastically increased and the efficiency the little rube so passionately advocates for has been destroyed.

While no one wants to be responsible for laying off sworn police officers, I would submit to you the pain of laying off 50 police officers would have had less of an impact on services and our ability to do the job than the elimination of the 80+ civilian support personnel. No, I do not want to lay off 50 police officers, but if the goal is to cut costs with the least impact on services and safety; laying off those in the academy would have accomplished this goal more efficiently. The cuts to civilians were simply the politically expedient way to temporarily solve a long term problem. The sad part of this is it was an opportunity for the department to gain the attention of the ignorant taxpayer who is clueless of the state of public safety in San Diego.

The January 2010 academy is not going to have any San Diego Police Recruits and the April 2010 academy is still up in the air as to whether we will have any at that time. The exodus of officers has for the time being slowed. This will not last for much longer as other agencies begin to hire and chose lateral hires over recruits. Officers with three to ten years on the department are poised to flee this city and the incompetence of its leadership. Early next year officers will begin to leave for other agencies as it becomes clear additional cuts will be taken from their paychecks. Those officers who have been here five years have had three reductions to their paychecks. How long would you stick around?

The elimination of twelve canine officers is a clear indication of what management and this city's leaders think of the safety of officers and citizens. The priorities of the mayor and council were clear yesterday when they voted to keep an urban forester over an investigative aide working the gun desk. The council's priorities further shone when they sought to find a legal way to use water funds to restore $369,000 for the San Dieguito River Park agency rather than explore the recommendation by the IBA to eliminate further vacant positions held in the police department budget to preserve the six PCCO'S. This action would have provided an additional $2.9 million which would have covered the cost of the six Police Code Compliance Officers that were eliminated. Talking about "Government Efficiency" the department and mayor get an "F" for this action. To ensure the duties and responsibilities are handled, four detectives and a detective sergeant will be added to the Vice Unit in hopes these sworn officers can fill the void. I say "Good Luck" it ain't going to happen.

Nothing good is going to come from yesterday's actions by the mayor and council. The so called 18 month budget passed yesterday will be out of kilter and facing another deficit by August. The structural changes that need be done have not even been discussed by ANY of our elected politicians. The cuts to services and elimination of employees will require higher paid employees to pick up the duties and responsibilities of those being laid off. The amount of overtime necessary to get the job done will drastically increase and the learning curve will continue to be an elusive arc. Where we had stable, experienced and hard working civilian support; we are now going to have sworn officers attempting to learn new tasks and looking to transfer about the time they begin to fully function in the job. Duties and responsibilities that require stability and consistency have been replaced with officers who will soon tire of the administrative function and seek new challenges and responsibilities in hopes of promoting or getting back into the game.

Say what you will; we would have been better served for our management and political leaders to do the right thing and lay off sworn officers rather than the 80+ civilian support staff they chose for political expediency and the ability to say, "We did not lay off any sworn officers." We are currently down 300 police officers and this number is going to continue to increase. The fifty to ninety recruits in the academy are years away from helping in any real way. We are in trouble folks and it will get worse when our civilian support staff handle their last cases.


Anonymous said...

The media refuses to report what is actually happending to the police department. Anybody hear anything from the 7th floor??

Fed Up Sergeant said...

This is a joke. Like you said Steve, we would have been much better off if they had laid off 50 or more officers. These layoffs will create more safety issues and take more people out of the field. Lansdowne is an idiot if he thinks we don't understand what the hell is going on around here. When are we going to fight back and do something to get rid of this relic and bring in someone from the outside who owes no one anything and who is willing to stand up and tell the truth? There is NO ONE on the 7th floor who can or will do that. The others up there are nothing but sheep and would only make it worse.

We are in trouble just like you said Steve. Who will be the first to die?

Just Wondering said...

I know this comment isn't going to please anyone on the 7th floor but it needs to be said and I know they'll read it.

Earlier this week during the budget hearing the IBA gave her report and analysis of the Mayor's proposed budget. Prior to the official release, the Voice of San Diego published a copy of the document on its website. In the document and in Tevlin's own oral presentation she questioned why the Department was keeping vacant police officer positions and whether it was wise. She pointed out the Departments PSOs, Investigative Aides and PCCOs do a tremendous amount of work, some generating revenue dollars for the City and all freeing police officers for more pressing field duties. Additionally, Tevlin rightly pointed out it just didn't make sense to remove officers, who's salary and benefits are much higher from field duties to do the tasks.

Here's what disturbs me. The Chief's office who received a copy of Tevlin's report before it's release at Council and hastily drafted a memo. The gist of the memo said there are no vacant or "unaccounted" for police officer positions. This memo was designed for one purpose to gut Tevlin's argument and her staff's careful analysis.

So is the Chief's office being truthful? We all know there are more that 200 vacant police officer positions vacant. Regular attrition still averages between 5 and 10 sworn employees every month so we will still loose between 60-120 sworn members each year. Even if we follow Lansdowne reorganization plans, the field, where the work is done continues to suffer ongoing and escalating staffing problems.

So here's my question. While the Chief's office really believes they know what's best, and of course, they hold the power as the administrators they are so far removed from the reality of policing today in 2010 it's impossible to judge fairly. Most of our Chief officers did their field work in the late 70s and during the 80's and it's just not the same now as it was then. Saddled with that aging perspective, the memo sent in to blow up Tevlin's thoughtful analysis was merely powerplay politics.
Sadly that memo disregarded the men and women of who do the work, day in and day out, around the clock, seven days a week. It's time for this Chief to listen to men and women who are the very backbone of the Department. It's time to put aside the power politics, and the ego that says I know best. It's time to stop trying to please two of the three groups, politicians, i.e. the Mayor, and the public, and hear the message being send by the men and women you claim to lead.

Our employees stood up said it at the council hearings loud and clear. They've said it in the hallways, in the cafeteria and in their offices. They made thoughtful and articulate arguments to support themselves and to serve the citizens of San Diego. We need our civilian support staff, our PSOs, our Investigative Aides our Police Code Compliance Officers to support of efforts to keep San Diego safe.

What we don't need are vacant police officer positions, political powerplays or egos that may get someone injured or worse.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine who has worked in San Jose PD for many years keeps calling me and all he does is laugh and say, "I told you so! I told you so!"

Anonymous said...

I heard a member of the "mamagement team" on the department say Letdown will stay with us for another 4 years to get a retirement. This, coupled with 3 more years of Slanders and Demayo on the horizon means we're in BIG trouble. Stand by to stand by.. This kind of reminds me of Saving Private Ryan.. Everyone involved in the mission gets killed one by one until Ryan is the only one left standing!!

DROP Short Timer said...

This ship has already sunk. We are all stuck in pockets of air that will soon be gone. It has come to survival of the fittest and every man for himself. This city and worst our own management team for the department has abandoned us and could care less about anyone of us. If you have less than 10 years on this pathetic department it is time to get out while the getting is good. Run and run like hell without looking back. Like Steve says, someone is going to get killed from the lack of personnel. Don't let it be you.

Anonymous said...

Here is the truth about things; some of us have already been shot, paralyzed, and a host of other life changing injuries during the course of holding up our end of the bargain and oath we took. The cold hard truth, nobody cares! Sanders, with Lansdowne's support, have led such a great campaign supporting the "piggish" city employees that the citizens don't care.

With the invention of DNA and other investigative aids, not only patrol but investigations are absolutely buried and will not see air for years to come. We have been sold out.

Sanders and Lansdowne were never one of us and they will never be one of us. The truth hurts, but it must be said and accepted. The Council and citizens don't care about their public safety in San Diego. If we can't even get support from our Chiefs, how can we expect anything more from others. The question begs to be asked now: Do we continue to sit by and watch?

Anonymous said...

Pull toy or not, DeMaio has found a message that resonates loudly with voting taxpayer in San Diego. He will continue to beat the drum that says the taxpayers are not responsible for as long as it takes. Remember every story needs a villain to blame and you're it.

Until a viable counter message is developed, distributed and most of all, believed, you will continue to see continued erosion of wage and benefits.

It's obvious the SDPD Chief is more interested in earning another pension for himself, then the welfare of his employees. Don't look for any support from him, he looking out for number one. Anyone who believes otherwise is kidding themselves.

Finally, while I am attempting to o pour salt in your open wounds, you should plan appropriately. If the state of the city remains the same over the next few years as currently forecast; when Sanders leaves office in 2012, DeMaio will become the next Mayor. You read it here first.

Anonymous said...

lowest turnout in years for the Dept Christmas party....what's that tell ya..?

Just Wondering said...

DeMaio Twists the Fact with Taxpayer Paid Mailer.

In what appears to be a parting criticism of DeMaio by former SDCERS' administrator, David Wescoe we learn that DeMaio, once again, is playing fast and loose with the facts regarding the pension debt. However, this time DeMaio is using the power and purse of his office, spending nearly $4000 of taxpayer money to send out a mailer to constituents in his district.

"The mailer depicts a chart that shows the city’s annual payment into the pension fund next year will be $225 million, or 38 percent of payroll, and is estimated to increase to $512 million, or 51 percent of payroll, by 2025. The numbers are from an August report created by the pension fund’s outside actuary, Gene Kalwarski, to show what it will cost to pay off the billion-dollar-plus pension deficit over the next 25 years." According to an article written BY CRAIG GUSTAFSON, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER and published on MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2009.

Wescoe points out DeMaio should have adjusted the figures for inflation, which would have reduced the 2025 payment to $273 million in today’s dollars.

“By not making this disclosure, the comparison is misleading,” Wescoe wrote.

Wescoe added that the mailer didn’t show that the annual payment is expected to decline every year after 2025 or that investment gains could lead to a lower payment in future years.

Once again the "Little Rube" distorts the facts building the foundation for a run for the Mayor office in 2012. But he's added a new twist to his attack, hit and run for cover.

When confronted by SDUT on his facts, he declined to be interviewed. DeMaio responded with a Dec. 1 letter in which he said “all the numbers used by our office have been taken directly from the report provided to our office by SDCERS and are the same exact numbers being used by the city.”

Through a spokeswoman, DeMaio declined an interview request and said his letter was “pretty self-explanatory.”

Wescos said, before leaving for his new job on December 1st, "My biggest disappointment in public service has been witnessing the use of inaccurate and misleading ‘facts’ by some to support their personal political positions,” Wescoe told DeMaio in the Nov. 24 letter. “I trust that wasn’t your intention.”

The facts are this coward, Carl DeMaio, continues to only tell the people of San Diego partial truths, leaving out important facts. These half truths only benefit his future aspirations to become the Mayor of San Diego.

The counter message, in this case the WHOLE truth must come out. Otherwise you will see more of half-truths and a further erosion of your negotiated wage and benefits.