Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Myth; The Legend, Reality

I laugh every time "Anonymous" posts a belief or information they want people to believe to be factual and accurate. I cringe at times when these posts are directed at people who have little if any opportunity to defend themselves. I have not edited, deleted or in any other way censored comments to my BLOG (two exceptions related to a known person making a comment meant to hurt someone). Rumors in law enforcement circles can take on a life of their own. The myths that grow from these rumors grow to folk lore status. Legends are made as well as demons.

In my 30+ years with the San Diego Police Department I have heard my share of rumors. I have heard the stories that produced these many legends and created as many demons. Many of the actions that elevated these people to "Legend" status generally had some kernel of truth, but over the years the story had morphed into something that vaguely resembles the actual event. Rumors generally start these stories, as the story is passed from one set of lips to an open ear; jumbled in a brain half soaked in alcohol; then repeated with a harmless detail being either added or deleted to make the story more entertaining or important.

There were the people who wanted to create their own "Legend Status" and would embellish upon an incident to make it bigger than reality. There was a Lieutenant who retired and moved to Washington who comes to mind. His was a storied career if you listened to him tell the story. He became a legend, even if only in his own mind. This person was slipping in status and stature and sought to increase his "Legendary Status." He became the center of attention in the mid-eighties when he alleged officers from the SDPD kidnapped him from his home in Washington, shot him in the ear, leaving him for dead, in an attempt to assassinate him for reasons that today are still not clear. Reality is, it never happened as described, but he achieved his "Legend" status and was the focus of attention for quite some time.

In 2006, I retired from the Poway Unified School District's Board of Education (PUSD). I served for twelve years (3 terms) and always held the belief members of the Board of Education should have a vested interest by having children in the schools, to serve on the board. My children had both graduated and I had served my time. I announced my retirement from PUSD and made plans to focus on my responsibility at the time of representing officers as a Director for the SDPOA. When I announced my retirement from the PUSD, I was interviewed by a news reporter who asked if I had any other plans for politics. I said I had considered running for the City Council and would explore that possibility in the future. These comments were seized upon by a couple of POA members who found this to be some sort of conflict (serving as a board member for the POA and exploring a run for City Council). I found myself defending a statement of future aspirations and what effect if any this would have on my ability to represent the members.

Let's fast forward to comments made in my last BLOG post. Someone (Anonymous) asked if I would consider running for Mayor in 2012. Flattered someone would think I could be a candidate in 2012. Reality is that person was most likely just home from the bars and was sporting a nice buzz at 0207 hours and not thinking clearly. But I appreciate the support all the same. Then "Fed Up City Employee" posted they heard somewhere I had considered a run for city council and would I still consider doing so. I can't use the same argument; Fed Up posted at 0921 hours. Maybe this poster is an old timer still working patrol and just got home from working graveyard and stopping off to have a couple of stress reducing beverages and just got home feeling the same buzz. Then an Anonymous poster writes, "Can anyone say skeletons?" I am not sure, but I believe this person was making a comment about my skeletons, in some way insinuating this would be a deterrent for such an action.

I am fortunate to live in a house large enough to have multiple walk in closets to house all of those skeletons. But as I move from closet to closet and change the Fabreeze odor reducers, I take stock of these "Skeletons" and their importance in who I was, who I have become and who cares. I laugh at many of these "skeletons" and how some became legend and reality from myth. I am not going to deny I have done and said some stupid things over my 30 years around this organization. I am not going to hide from the mistakes I have made in my life and place blame with others or shirk my culpability for these transgressions. The difficult task is addressing those skeletons created through myth and becoming legend. I laugh often at comments and actions attributed to me. If R.D. Brown did half of what has been attributed to him, he would first be over 100 years old and second he would either be in jail or dead. I feel like R.D. at times.

Make no mistake about my skeletons; I have them like all of us do. I do not have any that would cause me to shy from making a run for City Council. I am pretty much an open book and have accepted responsibility for my shortcomings and while I may not be perfect (OK, not even close) I would challenge anyone who is, to step forward and make a difference. Speaking to the issue of seeking a seat on the City Council, I am flattered when people ask me if I would consider doing so. I have spoken at length about the possibility of making a run at District One's seat on the City Council. I have explored options and discussed with various individuals that possibility.

Today, December 20, 2009, I have no plans and very little desire to take on that challenge. The "Anonymous" posters who cast stones and aspersions while slinking behind a computer screen, have such little credibility, their words and veiled threats are meaningless. My reasons for declining to thrust myself into that arena are many. The least of which are my skeletons or the anonymous posters. The ability for one person to affect the change necessary to rite this sinking ship is far more than my abilities and temperament would allow. I also refuse to adhere to the play book of either the Republicans or Democrats. I am a registered Republican and would not prostitute myself or my beliefs to garner their endorsement. I refuse to change my affiliation to Democrat and am left with moving to Independent or "refuse to state" to garner support. The seat is currently held by a Democrat and the Republicans are working to find a stalwart supporter of Sanders and the agenda of the downtown power brokers. That person is NOT me.

I am growing more concerned each day with the tone of those elected to represent our interests. The continued bashing of city employees and our wages and benefits by the press and politicians has grown tiresome. The lack of honest dialogue and refusal to make structural changes, have created a hostile work environment. The press and politicians have all found fault with promises made over years of negotiations and rather than offer solutions and reasonable modifications, have simply taken the politically expedient road by eliminating years of earned benefits and wages. The continued call for reductions and elimination of wages and benefits resonates with those taxpayers who have found themselves struggling to survive. Lacking solutions, we are left to defend the status quo which is a no win situation. We must move past that and offer reasoned changes to our benefits. To do otherwise is giving in and giving up.

The Board of Directors with the SDPOA is working hard to address issues of importance to its members. What is important? To me, the issue of "Retiree Medical Insurance" is the most pressing issue needing a solid answer. Being one of those hired before 1986, the retiree medical issue needs to be addressed before any other. To an officer who has twelve to fifteen years of service, this may not be the issue of most importance to them. Preservation of benefits should be the number one priority of all of us. To do this, we must be willing to find ways to sacrifice in areas less important so the future can be preserved. If the City moves to eliminate retiree medical in this year's contract, you can be assured there will be another exodus of officers from an already decimated department. The mayor knows this and does not care. If anything, in his eyes, it is a plus to eliminate those in the DROP or at retirement age from the city's payroll. The need to seek a solution to this pressing issue could not be greater.


Just Wondering said...

A new attack on Retiree Medical Benefits by the UT

As you mentioned the press, in this case the SDUT editorial writers have renewed their attack on our benefits.

The OP/ED piece in Sunday's editorial section once again attacks a benefit the direct result of the City's desire to relieve itself of the matching contributions to Social Security and Medicare.

I wrote a response while another commenter mentioned Section 418 of the USC and cases the UT failed to research...

What the UT left out of your Op/Ed piece were, of course, many facts surrounding the promises made to city employees back then. Pete Wilson was the Mayor and Ray Blair was the City Manager, they realize they were paying substantial amounts of money to keep employees in Social Security and Medicare. So the concocted a plan to leave both, but this required a vote of the affected employees. In 1981 or early 82 to gain the necessary votes needed to implement their plan, the City of San Diego, through its political and managerial leaders, promised retiree medical care as part of the retirement benefits in lieu of payments to Medicare.

A strange thing happened in 1986, the City once again started withholding money from the employees paychecks who were hired in 1986 or later for medicare. Did the city realize then the costs they would be liable for as baby boomers retired? Did the City try to mitigate the retiree medical costs by re-entering medicare? Was the City trying to avoid the meet and confer requirements and a re-entry into social security? There are many questions surrounding the moral and ethical issues of promises and agreements made by elected leaders and the so called professionals running the City.

But getting back to the pre-1986 employees who voted to leave social security and Medicare in 1982. They were not required nor were they informed about the risks or about the ongoing fiscal mismanagement of the City. History has shown us the city deliberately hid information from the public, its employees but also from legally biding statements in its bond offering. Who really knows how many years the city perpetrated fraud in its audits.

So for the past 25, 30 years or more many city employees have not contributed money or earned the necessary credits to qualify for medicare benefits upon reaching age 65. If the City intends to terminate promised and negotiated benefits, lawyers will get rich, taxpayers will get screwed paying for lawyers and benefits.
Once again we see the City of San Diego, has been, and is been run by people who are not qualified, but worse not held responsible.

This Mayor only cares about his legacy and who will be paying him a salary after his term ends in 2012.

Fed Up POII said...

You are a legend sparky. You have the balls to say what many only grumble about in private. You have spoken up and shed light on the BS going on. The "anonymous" punks who cast doubt are simply ignorant jerks who do not have the testicular will or ability to do what you do.

I for one appreciate your efforts and for speaking for many of us. Keep up the outstanding posts and shedding light on the idiots at city hall.

Retired SDPD said...

We all have skeletons in our closets. If there are no skeletons in someones closet they don't take risks, live in a bubble and have not lived. We have enough saints in heaven and in today's real world skeletons amount to a note in file for a traffic accident, telling a citizen they are stoopid or missing court. Let's not even get into the cheating on ones spouse, cheating on taxes, getting arrested for drunk driving, being chased by CHP during that same drunk driving arrest or failing to tell the truth about your salary.

Nice post Steve. Can you block the chickens who post as anonymous? I think you should.

Amazed said...

I am amazed at how poorly this city is being governed. I am amazed that the citizens of this city continue to buy into the BS that Sanders spews out. I am amazed how the chief of police refuses to publicly back his officers in this critical time; If the citizenry knew just exactly how poorly they are being policed then maybe something could get done.

Sparky you should run for a council seat. You are absolutely qualified; you know the issues inside and out; you will be able to speak the truth as you do on this blog, and above all the people need to know...


Anonymous said...

I know what you did! At that place...with those people...that thing you did. I know a guy who heard it from a guy who..nevermind

Anonymous said...

I "Love You" Sparkles! Have a Happy New Year!

michael said...

I noticed you were interacting with Lani Lutar on Twitter and getting the facts straight. Thanks for what you do.