Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Headed to Yosemite to Hike Half Dome

I'm finishing up my packing and putting things in order to head off early tomorrow morning (4 a.m.) for Yosemite. The plan is to climb Half Dome on Friday and return to San Diego on Sunday. I have this extreme fear of heights, so getting to the top of that rock may be a feat all to itself. Getting back down??? If you never see another post on here you will know why.

In the last few days the e-mails and telephone calls with questions have increased and I will try to capture the essence of the concerns most have had. I would suggest the questions you have related to DROP, Retiree Medical, DROP Interest, and the current contract; call a Board Member for the SDPOA. I do not have the answers to most of your questions. The answers I have offered come from my understanding of the Charter, MMBA and what I have gleaned from the information put out as of today by the SDPOA Board. I am still confused, as it appears many of you are what changes if any came from discussions on Thursday, May 21, 2009, between the SDPOA and City.

The message coming from Board Members seems to be very clear. Those Board members who have discussed the Retiree Medical have all said there is little hope anything will change in the foreseeable future and if you are in DROP and concerned with the loss of the COLA for your medical, you need to speak to your financial advisor NOW and make a decision based on your specific needs and desires. You need to do what is right for you!!!! The pre-1986 people who have no Medicare; there is also little if any hope the City is going to make accommodations or changes to the LBFO and we are "SOL" as they say.

Mike Conger is working on preparing litigation to address the DROP issues; 55 age entry; DROP interest and elimination of the benefit from Chiefs and Captains. He is also working on researching the Retiree Medical issues. The word from those Board members who are speaking is this is a tough issue and will take longer to work through. So if you are waiting for something to come of this litigation, you may be standing at the door waiting for a while. Do not gamble with your future if you do not have Medicare or some other form of insurance to sustain you through your golden years.

The good news is the Voice of San Diego has picked up on the shenanigans of the mayor and his negotiations team. They are asking the right questions and pointing out the underhanded, unethical and illegal manner the mayor and his henchmen have comported themselves. There is more to come and we can all hope this will in some way put the mayor in check and force him to pay attention to the law and stop with his illegal behavior (Don't hold your breath; but we can all hope). As this all plays out you will see a lot of finger pointing and shifting of blame in the mayor's office. Someone's head is going to roll; any bets on who will be first? Lunch on me at the "Green Fly" for the person who identifies who in the mayor's circle will be first to lose their job as the mayor throws his patsy under the bus.

To all of you who are still on the fence and trying to make a decision; you need to get your paperwork together if you are going to roll your annual leave over. The cut-off date for this to happen is, June 12th. Contact payroll NOW to get the specifics of what you need to do and by when. Do not get caught holding a large bag of cash only to have to give it over to the IRS because you procrastinated and could not take advantage of this option. Call SDCERS and get down there and figure out what it means if you stay and if you go. Get ALL the information you can to make an educated and intelligent decision based on what is best for YOU. Time is ticking folks!!!!

I just received a message from the mayor via Twitter; "CASupremeCt decided some can take away certain rights from others. Neither justice nor equality were on the court's agenda today #prop8" (I love following the mayor) without getting into a discussion either way related to this issue; does anyone see the contradiction here? If Lisa were a police officer, would the mayor be as eager to violate the law and eliminate, reduce or otherwise change vested benefits she would stand to receive as part of her employment? Another raw example of the mayor's penchant for picking and choosing what law is acceptable or important. His attitude is clear and his actions speak to his ethical digressions. It is the little things.

I will be checking in, off and on, but will not post to this BLOG again until Sunday, May 31, 2009. I will be lounging under the large pines and oaks in Yosemite, reading, listening to music and sipping cold beverages. I hope to hike daily, do some writing and photography; then the climb of Half Dome. I am looking forward to this much needed break and will finalize my decision; do I stay or do I go? We shall see. Until Sunday; Keep the faith, be safe and enjoy family and friends.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Muse

A day to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom.... Thank You!!!!

If you have not heard; the mayor is going to Sacramento on Tuesday (May 26, 2009), on what is being called a "high-profile lobbying trip" to "protest" the possibility the Governor will divert 8% of revenue from the City, to the State. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle, black? This guy is unbelievable!!! He thinks nothing of taking 6% from his employees; eliminating and cutting benefits; at the same time he begins taking his full salary as well as his retirement payment. He is going to Sacramento to "protest possible confiscation of local government money." I wish him well. Hope he has better luck challenging the take away than we did!!!

Did you hear about the inaugural "Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast" held at the Holiday Inn at the Bay, the other day? The event was co-chaired by Robert Gleason and Nicole Ramirez. Nicole is a very active member of the Gay and Lesbian community and well known for his (yes, his) hair, makeup and fabulous gowns. Catch Nicole in most settings and he will be wearing a suit and tie. The mayor was the emcee for the event and was heard making what can only be described as an "Unbelievable" and "Completely Inappropriate" comment to Nicole Ramirez. The mayor is standing on the stage with his daughter, Lisa. The mayor makes the following statement; "I know this makes her nervous. She doesn't know if I'll cry, crack an inappropriate joke or throw the F-bomb out there." Then he says this to Nicole Ramirez; "I think this is the first time I've shared a stage with Nicole; but I believe we did share a patrol car once, when I was a cop. I was the chauffeur. Nicole was in the back seat wearing silver bracelets." Think there might be hell to pay for anyone else who may make such a comment? I'm no prude, but what on earth was he thinking? That was a rhetorical question; the mayor seldom thinks about his actions or the consequences. Why should he; there are no consequences as evidenced by the multitude of ethical and illegal actions he and his staff has been involved in of late.

The Padres won again today in 10 innings. They beat the Diamondbacks 9-7, for their 10th win in a row. Go Padres!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


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.