Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Have You Seen a Pay Telephone Lately?

Have you attempted calling a co-worker with the police department lately only to find the number has been disconnected or is no longer in service? How many of you working various assignments have had your department issued cellular phone taken away? Sex Crimes detectives are the latest to fall victim to the budget cutting, cost savings by the department. Many have already forfeited their department telephones and more are yet to be eliminated.

It is hard for anyone to argue the need to cut costs and save money. The department was running a cellular telephone bill in the area of over $700 thousand annually. The goal is to reduce this bill to no more than $250 thousand annually. The telephones were in small part a handout facilitated by a project with Qualcomm. The PDA telephones were a project to get more PDA devices in the hands of working police officers to make their jobs more efficient.

Times have changed and we need to take several steps back in time. To a time when there were few cellular telephones and communications dispatchers relayed information for us. Remember pagers? Old school yes but better than nothing? Oops; I forgot, they are all gone also. What are we going to do? We surely won't be able to be as efficient as we were when we had a department cellular telephone in our pockets or on our belts. Have you tried lately to find a pay telephone? Good luck!

Now I am not going to try and make a case for the department providing a cellular telephone for very member. I'm not sure I could do that with a straight face and at the same time defend my logic. Heck, the doctors in Haiti are doing surgery without all the high tech instruments, machines and equipment they were use to before the earthquake. This is a pathetic comparison I know. But the point I am making is we were able to do the job before cellular telephones and we will be able to do it now. The sad part is there are many detectives out there who never did the job before cellular telephones and have come to rely on them for their primary source of communication with their office, informants, victims, witnesses, their supervisors, partners and allied agencies. We will re-adjust and simply go back to the old way of doing things; less efficiently and with less expediency. We will get the job done but the boss will have to wait until 10-19 to get updated information on incidents. This will not go over well. Do you have your own cellular telephone? Will you be willing to use it for department business? The old *51 number (I first put *56 oops) used for not being charged minutes for calls into the department is gone. I know there are some puzzled looks right now and people reading this asking what the hell "*51" is. Ask an old timer and he or she can explain it to you.

The plan as I understand it is to have "duty" cellular telephones for every division or unit to pass around. The phone will be used for call outs and department business. The times of every detective and supervisor having a telephone provided by the department is in the past. The department's goal of saving half a million dollars is admirable and understandable. The question in my mind is how much will this cost the department in the long run in terms of time and lost productivity? Time will tell.

Today I had a "Twitter Joust" with the little rube. Well, maybe better said; I challenged the little rube on four of his five "Pension Reforms" he is touting around town. The little rube uses Twitter more than all the other politicians in this City put together. He uses every medium he can to deliver his twisted and distorted messages. Left unchecked he will no doubt win over many unknowing voters.

Below is the exchange I had with the little rube today on Twitter. I would urge you all to sign up for Twitter and follow the various politicians and other so called "leaders" in San Diego so you can become educated and involved in what they are doing.

  1. carldemaio said; Pension Reform #1: Eliminate "terminal leave" -- did you know city employees earn pension credits on their vacation days after they retire? stevemac1956 said; your last is patently untrue. When on "Terminal Leave" ALL accruals STOP. Check your facts!!
  2. carldemaio said; Pension Reform #2: Eliminate Offsets: We pay more than $10M each year of "employee" contributions to pensions. Not vested. stevemac1956 said; Again you spin truth. "Offsets" were INLIEU of pay raises and cost city LESS money. Learn the history Carl
  3. carldemaio said; Pension reform #3. SPSP Waiver: Eliminate the city match to the "second" pension plan. We did this with MEA, need to do with others (No comment - not our fight)
  4. carldemaio said; Pension Reform #4. DROP Neutrality. City muni code require cost neutrality. Vested benefit has to conform. Let's implement now. stevemac1956 said; It is better than cost neutral. But mayor refuses to do study because he knows this. You should also
  5. carldemaio said; Pension Reform #5. Finish the job of reforming pensions for "new" hires. Electeds, public safety still have high pensions. stevemac1956 said; You need to know facts Carl. DC will cost city 35% more than current DB. Safety retirement is not the problem. Again FACT check
  6. carldemaio said; These 5 Pension Reforms can all legally be done -- no vesting problems. Only thing missing is candor/leadership. stevemac1956 said; The only thing missing are honest politicians who blame others for problems THEY created. YOU simply compound problems with lies
  7. carldemaio said; I'm appearing on KUSI Good Morning San Diego tomorrow at 7:30 am to talk pension reform
This is but a tip of the iceberg as to what this pathetic individual is doing related to your benefits and wages. Stand by for more as he is hell bent on convincing the taxpaying public how grossly overpaid we all are and how generous and outrageous our retirement benefits are. He will not rest until he has eliminated our retirement.


Anonymous said...

It's been a while, but wasn't it *51 ????????????

SparkySanDiego said...

Thank you... how right you are. I made the correction in the post... Someone is paying attention!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post Steve! Thanks for putting this info out. The Rube is scary and I can only hope some of your comments make it to a more public forum!

Just Wondering said...

Carl DeMaio, a.k.a. The L’il Rube is everywhere…SDDT, SDUT, TWEETS or KUSI…where is the response?

Our L’il Rub exploits and sensationalizes the pension mess every chance he gets. Whether it’s the SDUT, Daily Transcript or this Morning’s KUSI news program he’s beating the drum and spinning like a top.

Two disturbing issues crop up every time I hear him speak.

One, he always ignores the root cause of the pension problems: the City’s purposefully underfunded the system and the illegal taking of investment profits, i.e. the “waterfall” to fund items the city should have been paying for all along.

Second, gullibility of the media or its lack of interrogatories about his positions. Does anyone in the media ask probing questions anymore or are they all softballs. It’s as if our L’il Rube is San Diego’s Pied Piper of fiscal reform enchanting his interviewers with his words and promises. Creating villains out of hard working employees, they do nothing and they are overpaid. Blame others, and never take responsibility for mismanagement and years of plain thievery of the employee’s retirement trust.

Today at 0734 on KUSI our Rube exploited the Required Retirement Payment. But he went further adding amounts he knows were part of a legal settlement of entered knowingly and intelligently by the City to correct earlier illegal acts. Then he added in COLAs, Retiree Health Care, and Offsets to get to 69% of salary costs. Of course he leaves out Offsets were in lieu of pay raises because the City wanted it that way in past negotiations. Retiree Health Care was promised when the city saved millions from the costs associated with contributing to Social Security and Medicare. And COLAs, cost of living adjustments, the ones designed to prevent inflationary cycles of our economy from devastating your pension.

Hell L’il Rube, even the federal government gives COLAs to Social Security Recipients but City workers should not have that safety net??? Oh and by the way, you ASS the Actuaries calculate COLAs and COLAs ARE NOT paid in years where there is little or no inflation. I’m sure you knew this you just didn’t want mention it because it doesn’t fit your spin.

Continued below due to size constrains

bummed said...

Thanks Steve, great post!

Anybody hear anything from our "POA" publicly backing us, lately? Or anything at all? Wow, unbelievable....!

Just Wondering said...

Now let’s take a look at some other issues and examine the truthfulness of Mr. DeMaio's five recommendations.

The required payment of $231M is based upon a June 30 valuation of the SDCERS investment pool. Since June, the stock market has soared recovering more than 60 percent as of December 31st. SDCERS' actuaries have NOT recalculated and WILL NOT recalculate until June 30, 2010's valuation by plan rules, rules set by the City Council in ordinances they enacted.

1. Finish reforming Pensions
Mayor Sanders specifically did not change public safety retirements because he knows he must compete for qualified workers. Wasn't it just a few years ago when seasoned employees were leaving in droves? It costs .5 Million dollars to train a cop and we were and still are more than 200 officer short of the budgeted strength approved by the City Council.

2. Offsets
Pension pickups or offsets were offered by the city in lieu of pay increases. Those pickups reduced retirement benefits. A fact you left out.

3. Other City Plans
City workers were promised SPSP, Supplemental Pension Security Plan for agreeing to leave Social Security in the early 80's. Many city employees have not earned credits to receive social security payments like private sector workers.

4. Annual Leave
This is red herring. Yes it’s true some labor groups still have access to terminal leave. It's also true these are earned days of leave. This means if an employee takes a vacation they are paid and earn pension credits while on vacation. So if an employee took a vacation six months before retiring they earn those days of service. IF and this is a big if the city is following the law and its own rules, monies are set aside to an escrow account to pay these benefits. In other words this already is a budgeted expense and another DeMaio red herring.

Everyone wants the DROP analysis to be completed. Until is it we are all speculating. Our Rube chooses to be incendiary but he does it cautiously because he is keenly aware DROP may actually be saving the City money. Read his words careful he says, “…Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) -- which could open the door to significant taxpayer savings.

Not will but "could". Ever the politician even the RUBE know how to speak out of both sides of his mouth. The Rube has created a loophole for himself when the study reveals a cost savings.

He goes on to complain about, “a legal dispute with the pension board has held up the elimination of the DROP program for several groups of city employees.” The Board believe it was acting lawfully following rules set up in the Municipal Code, one enacted and passed by the very City Council that our Rube sits on.

Let’s remember and state the record clearly:

It was the City’s own Attorney who CHOSE to DELAY actions regarding new employees and DROP by a previous council. He did it, if we choose to believe him, for tactical reasons during a trial that the City Attorney eventually lost. Is that City Attorney held responsible for not carrying out the Council will? No, our RUBE want to deflect responsibilities to SDCERS.

As a current City Council member Mr. DeMaio's redirection of blame through revisionist history to SDCERS is just plain wrong. It was, and still is, the City Council’s responsibility to ensure its attorney follows through on the Ordinances it passes.

This one act by Mr. DeMaio alone is reprehensible, combined this with all the other spin, and San Diegans should be sickened by such behavior.

The citizens of San Diego are sick and tired of their elected representative lying, omitting or distorting the truth to further their own personal career or agenda. DeMaio has both. He will let nothing get in his way or stop him from attaining it, not even the truth.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that we live in some scary times! I try to always think of the glass half full and can only hope that we the SDPD are not going to be an "example" of. I can only hope for the best and expect the worst. I know we can not just roll over and take whatever it is the mayor and counsel have in store for us but I feel little hope. San Diegans worry about themselves and the small world that effects them. There are sooo few that could care less about public safety (because it does not effect them until they pick up the phone and dial 911 or 5312000) that our plight is insignificant. The major and counsel have unlimited access to the public and what they hear. SCARY! Thanks Steve for your blog I continue to read and become educated by it.

Blue Line said...

You can add Identity Theft, Auto Theft, MAST, and many other units to the list of detectives who have lost the use of cell phones and pagers. As a supervisor I now have no means of communicating with my detectives when they are in the field. There is no assigned radio frequency they can monitor and I cannot call them on their personal cell phones and expect them to pay for a job related call using their personal cell minutes. In fact, they have already stated they will not answer a call on their personal cell unless it is a fmaily member calling.

I am waiting for the first time that I am directed to gather my detectives due to a criticl incident or to pass on information and I have to tell the command, "Sorry. I have no way to reach them. They will be back in the office at the end of the day."

Just Wondering said...


Today's speech by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith starts to bring the light of truth: The City has a legal and moral obligation to pay its bills.

The city is not insolvent, Goldsmith said, a precondition of bankruptcy and reform of the city's largest liability -- its $2.1 billion pension debt -- is hamstrung because a number of those benefits are considered vested or guaranteed. Those benefits couldn't be changed in bankruptcy court, he said.

But the most important sentence of his speech.

"I haven't found a case in the history of this country in which a municipality has been allowed to void or dissolve pension benefits in a bankruptcy."

Interesting to say the least. Over the last four or five years the city, taxpayers and employees endured the former City Attorney's assertions and claims. He'd get those pension benefits rolled back. So far all of the courts have rules against him and his, what was it, six, seven, maybe eight amended complaints.

Now our current City Attorney says bankruptcy WILL cost the city between $100 and $300 million in attorney's fees and he cannot find a case where pension benefits were altered by the trustee.

So where does this leave us? Well that's IS the $64,000 question.

Retiree medical costs, are already capped as of last years pay negotiations, well at for a couple of labor groups. Expect more erosion to this benefit because the courts have already ruled it is not a pension thus not a vested right.

It is however, a moral obligation and a sacred promised made to employees who did what the city wanted way back in 1981 when they agreed to opt out of Social Security and Medicare.

Just Wondering said...

You NEED to Read and Understand

Jan Goldsmith, San Diego's City Attorney, has posted his first legal opinion for 2010. It's about "Pension Benefits and Other Post- Employment Benefits". It more than sixty pages but well worth the time necessary to read and understand.

This opinion is, if you will, the City's potential playbook on how it's going to deal with pension problems.

While there is a limiting disclaimer, "...this opinion is not an omission of or limitation on any position the City may take on any litigation..." it's obvious Mr. Goldsmith and has staff have spent a great deal of time researching and analyzing the information they've amassed.

It's your future folks, here's your opportunity to delve deeply into to some complicated issues so you can speak intelligently, and challenge misinformation when you hear it.

Here is the the link!

Just Wondering said...

New Ballot Initiative Qualified

The Secretary of State's office has announced three initiatives that would pare back public employee compensation have entered the signature-gathering phase to qualify for the November ballot.

You can read the secretary's announcement, the measures' legal titles and summaries and rules for ballot qualification by clicking this link.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if anyone has been keeping up with Don Bauder's Scam San Diego.. It lively to say the least. SD Reader's Scam San Diego!

Love those comments.....

Just Wondering said...


In an earlier post I pointed you to the Legal Opinion just written and posted by Jan Goldsmith, San Diego's City Attorney. I warned you it's 61 pages of facts, opinions, analysis and conclusions. I know you all have busy lives so here are some "page pointers" I found very interesting.

Conclusions - Page 31

DROP - Appendix F - Page 46. Page 47, paragraph three that starts: “We content that,” is a very important statement for those considering when to enter DROP and for those already in DROP. Paragraphs following also have significant language and intent.

COLA Payments - Appendix B - Page 37

The 13th Check - Appendix D - Page 41

Retiree Health Benefits – Appendix H – Page 54. We always save the best for last….

On page 61 read the paragraph, and the ones that follow, beginning with: “Based on legislative history,”

For those of you who are retired already, pay close attention to the on page 61 that begins with “As to the question…”

This is the City's playbook for the near future...read it, understand it.

Just Wondering said...


If you haven't done so already you should read this and learn about this fellow Baxamusa. Yes it's a bit extreme but there's nothing wrong with getting ideas from outside of the box too.
The ideas from those currently in power have failed repeatedly.