Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Exposed Nerve?

I guess I exposed a nerve last night when I wrote about my observations and concerns with the San Diego Police Officers Association's communications/lobbyist. I heard from a number of active and retired officers, all voicing their concerns about a myriad of issues. Central to their concerns is a perceived lack of action from the SDPOA Board of Directors and their silence on issues surrounding retiree medical benefits and the constant threats of rollbacks to these and other benefits.

It is always a good read when SDPOA Board Member "Free Radical" aka Woody Dubois comments. He can always be counted upon to be fired up and say what’s on his mind. His comment to my rant was no exception. But I have a question FR/WD; if you were in a meeting with CALPERS trying to work out a solution to this difficult issue, why were you responding to my post and some of the other comments, instead of focusing your thoughts and energy on the task at hand (it’s a rhetorical question)? I appreciate the comments and the information provided but would question the timing.

The number one issue for many of those I have talked with recently is retiree health insurance. Thinking outside of the box and researching every possibility is what it is going to take to solve this and many of the other critical issues facing the members of the SDPOA. Beginning the discussion with CALPERS is the first in a million step process. Have the other unions collectively agreed to this venture? Without ALL of their participation and agreement, this discussion is a non-starter. The sad part of thinking outside the box and trying to find new and innovative solutions is the SDPOA cannot do it alone. But it is this type of thinking and action the members are clamoring for from their POA.

To the naysayers and critics of the SDPOA Board of Directors, I wish to offer some observations and comments. I can be quick to ridicule or challenge when I perceive lack of action or indifference on the part of the board. The reliance on technology to communicate a message to constituents is often met with frustration on the part of the recipient of the intended information. No one medium is best for getting a message out to a mass of people except good old fashion one on one or group talk that involves the delivery of accurate and detailed information followed up with open and honest feedback. The frustration of the member is heightened when he or she perceives nothing is being done on their behalf. Rumors begin to float about and apathy soon follows when information is not transmitted in a manner that reaches its intended target. Being a board member is a thankless and tireless job. There will always be those who think board members are not doing enough; are in over their head; or think they can do a better job. When these same people get elected they find out just how difficult it is to communicate in a timely manner the actions of the board on behalf of the member. The SDPOA e-mail blast is only as good as the message being sent; the SDPOA forum is like this blog in that only a handful of people (same 10-12 people) share their thoughts while many will lurk in the shadows reading the comments of a few; the Informant is a poor medium lacking timely or detailed information on the issues of negotiations, labor relations or concerns of members; the SDPOA phone blast has a limited ability to provide any real information; and the Choir Practice which I have found to be sparsely attended and not effective are all good and bad at the same time. I applaud the board for the effort, but reliance on these message delivery mechanisms fall short of desired results.

I may not agree with the actions or direction of the SDPOA, but I am a strong supporter of the Association. I freely voice my opinion and often ask questions of board members. I believe it is the silent majority that need be prodded to get involved if we are ever going to make a difference as a group. The loudest voice or most ardent critic is not always the opinion most widely held by the masses. But, like the little rube and his message, if left unchecked becomes the most widely held belief. The comments posted on this blog are a small sample of the perceptions or beliefs held by those who take the time to write. I do not judge or filter comments to my blog. I have rejected the comments from one individual who I know and will not allow this person to participate on my blog. The person is not a member of the police department or association; never has been and does not even live in the state.

I will continue to rant and speak out. My perceptions; personal observations; thoughts; snippets of wisdom; and a little bit of random insanity, will be posted for all to see. I welcome others to be insightful and share their thoughts so we can contemplate and debate issues in a civil and open forum. I would urge you to become educated and involved in your association and take an active role in the changes you desire. The nine directors cannot do it alone. They need your help and they need you to hold them accountable as the same time. They in turn need be open to criticisms and feedback without striking out in anger when the message is not to their liking.

What I hear from members more than anything else is their desire for someone to counter those voices most in the public who paint our benefits in a false light and tell the taxpayers all is well. They want someone, anyone, to stand up for them and tell the truth. No one has suggested throwing rocks at the mayor. What is being suggested is someone to accurately and consistently articulate the reality of police officer wages, benefits and working conditions; to counter the message the little rube is preaching with real facts; and to do this in a professional manner. The time and place is here and now. Waiting for a better time or a better place is simply abdicating the responsibility of doing what is right and necessary.

Be safe and support each other. We are all in this together and we are only as strong as our weakest link.


Just Wondering said...

DeMaio and Frye....Bonnie and Clyde at it again

In a memo to Mayor Sanders published yesterday, 1/26/10, our Rube and his Pension busting partner, Donna Frye, stated many of the same old stuff recently published by the San Diego Daily Transcript. We questioned the integrity of the Rube's statements in a previous blog post: "Have You Seen a Pay Telephone Lately?"

A new wrinkle added to the list is the adoption or revision of Charter Section 143.1. You may recall our City Attorney hung his hat on the phrase: "...without the approval of a majority vote of the members..."

His argument was if the retirement system has lets say 3000 members then 1501, a majority of those members must vote for affirmatively something to pass. A simple majority, 1001 of 2000 votes cast is not sufficient.

Lawyer speak, ya gotta love their logic. Yes I know, that's crazy... if that standard was applied to elections nothing would ever pass and no one would ever be elected.

The Rube and his partner also say the City Attorney says DROP is not vested and they want that cost neutral study. Hey Carl, here's a news flash...

1. The case is being appealed and trial courts are reversed.

2. Everyone wants the neutrality study. Rumor has it the city didn't like the results from the first study and has ordered another delaying the release.

The POA has filed a request for public records concerning everything to do with DROP as well as everything about the study that wasn't released. I guess we'll all have to wait and see what redacted materials the city responses with.

Our rube and his new partner close the memo with questions that were not answered in the City Attorney's Legal Opinion, 2010-1. He goes on to say, "We intend to continue to canvass for ideas on how to legally reform our pension system and to seek city attorney review of those ideas.

Well here's an idea...how about paying back the money prior city administrator stole by underfunding their required payments and paying back the money the City stole from investment earning to fund retiree health care both with interest. The latter, an illegal act as ruled by the IRS. One that jeopardized the system's Tax Qualified status just to hide the city's financial mismanagement.

Just Wondering said...

If you want to read the memo from Bonnie and Clyde, er a, I mean DeMaio and Frye, you can find it HERE!