Thursday, January 28, 2010

You be the Judge - Is he a Hypocrite?

If there is anyone out there who currently works for the City of San Diego and still supports the mayor of this town, I want you to read closely what I have discovered over the past couple of evenings. If this does not change your thinking, I will assume you work in his office or live in his house.

The mayor took a deferred retirement from the police department when he left after 26 years of service. At age 50 he was eligible to begin drawing his pension of approximately $84,000. In 2005, when the mayor ran for election he said, “If elected mayor, I will remove any position of conflict by not re-entering the pension system. Additionally, I will donate back to the city the portion of my mayoral salary equivalent to my pension benefits to eliminate any double dipping.”

When first elected the mayor took a salary of $36,000 along with his $84,000 retirement benefit. His annual salary with the two combined payments totaled $112,000. When re-elected to a second term, the mayor secretly began taking his full salary of $100,464 annually and his retirement had grown to $92,400, for an annual salary of $192,864.

Remember the mayor said he was not going to re-enter the retirement system and told everyone he would not “double-dip.” Well, he either lied to everyone to get elected (say it's not so) or he plum forgot his promise and had someone sign him up to gain the benefit of his time as mayor.

Now here is the part that should piss off every taxpayer, employee, supporter or non-supporter of the mayor. According to SDCERS actuary Cheiron, in their June 30, 2009, Actuarial Valuation, in Section IV, Contributions, on page 21 of their January, 8, 2010, report, it indicates the “Total Normal Cost Rate for Current Members” (Contribution rate for Elected Members) is 39.59% with the City paying 30.53% and the elected member paying 9.06%. Let’s compare safety’s contribution of 29.26% for police and 29.36% for fire with the City paying 16.04% of police and 15.96% for fire while the employee pays 13.22% for police and 13.40% for fire. The contribution for the General worker is 19.90% with the City paying 9.12% and the employee paying 10.78%. Remember, the mayor reneged on years old promises of the city picking up portions of these contributions in lieu of pay raises (which saved the city money) and forced employees to make these payments (as well as reducing wages and flexible benefit dollars). There has been NO CHANGE to the contributions of elected officials and they still receive additional dollars for their flexible benefits..

Elected officials earn 3.5% per year of elected service and ONLY pay 9.06% of the 39.59% contribution. So a person, who is elected to mayor or city council and serves eight years, stands to receive 28% of their highest salary as a retirement. The mayor will serve two terms totaling 7 years. He would receive 24.5% of his highest one year’s salary or about $24,622; if he were participating in the retirement system. Remember he said he was not going to participate.

Turns out the mayor IS PARTICIPATING in the retirement system for Elected Members after all. He is positioning himself to add more than $24,000, to his $92,400 Safety Retirement. He is doing this and ONLY PAYING 9.06% while Police Officers pay 13.22% and earn 3% per year of service, Fire personnel pay 13.40%, earning 3% per year of service and General workers pay 10.78% earning 2.5% per year of service.

The mayor has been cutting, eliminating and changing our wages and benefits at will, all while secretly increasing his own. When will the public wake up and realize they are being lied to and taken for a ride by this transparent politician? When will the press stop pandering to him and the little rube and start to do their due diligence? Crime is down; city employee retirements are excessive; I’m being promoted to Captain; and the mayor is telling you the truth. I also have some land for sale that is great beach front property; I am free to show it on any night there is no moon and the tide is low.

If just once there was a reporter who would write a story telling the truth about the retirement benefits of city employees; I would be grateful. To see a reporter explain in detail that 90% is the MAXIMUM retirement benefit ANY EMPLOYEE retiring from the city is capable of receiving and not the 130% the little rube says every time he opens his mouth; I would be grateful. If that reporter would explain the “pick-up” the city asked employees to accept in lieu of pay raises and how it saved the city millions of dollars; I would be grateful. If that reporter would accurately write about the city’s request in 1981, employees leave Social Security for the promise of lifetime retiree medical insurance to be provided by the City, so the City could save millions of dollars; I would be grateful.

I know I am asking a lot of a reporter in San Diego. But, heck; can’t we all have a dream?


Anonymous said...

Yes, PLEASE will someone put this out to the media. WHy is it that an elected official gets 3.5%?? THey arent working graveyard shift, holidays and weekends, nor are they risking their life. I bet they havent been injured on duty several times like many officers either!!

How do they justify a more lucrative salary, retirement, etc than a police officer, firefighter, or others? Someone PLEASE ask one of them!

THanks again Steve for your informative stories. I only wish they could be made more public.

KUSI did a story a couple of weeks ago about how the city counsel doesnt even have to pay their retirement contribution..maybe someone could approach them?

Also, whats up with the PR firm the POA hired? Seems like opportunities are aboound to make some statements.

Just Wondering said...

Aren't They So Special

Hell Sparky... I would be grateful if our local media would start with just half of what you asked.

Let's also not forget this perk. Besides the higher multipliers, less time is necessary to vest into the system. Here is quote from the SDCERS website for "Elected Officials"

To be eligible for an SDCERS Service Retirement as an Elected Officer you must meet the minimum service credit and age requirements at the time you retire from the City:

Age 55 with four (4) or more years of service credit; or

Eight (8) or more years of service credit at an age less than 55, with the retirement benefit reduced by 2% for each year and fractional year under 55.

While General Members must meet the minimum service credit and age requirements at the time you retire from the City:

1. Age 55 with 20 or more years of service credit, or

2. Age 62 with 10 or more years of service credit

To be eligible for an SDCERS Service Retirement as a Police Safety Member, you must meet the following minimum service credit and age requirements at the time you retire from the City:

Age 50 with 20 or more years of service credit, or
Age 55 with 10 or more years of service credit.

To be eligible for an SDCERS Service Retirement as a Fire Safety Member, you must meet the following minimum service credit and age requirements at the time you retire from the City:

Age 50 with 20 or more years of service credit; or
Age 55 with 10 or more years of service credit.

So lets review... if you're an elected official and over 55, like our Mayor, your contribution is the smallest of any group and is also in violation of the City Charter which says contributions to the retirement should be "substantially equal".

And here's something that I just recognized this morning thanks to Sparky's blog.

I went back to review the City Attorney's Legal Opinion 2010-1 "Pension Benefits and Other Post Employment Benefits". On Page 11 of Mr. Goldsmith's opinion he acknowledges there are three classes of Retirement System Members; General, Safety and Elected Officers (SDMC § 24.0103).

While he spends a great deal of time and effort on two of the three classes, his analysis is devoid of information concerning Elected Officials and their retirement earning benefits or post employment retirement benefits.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's 61 page Legal Opinion 20110-1 on "Pension Benefits and Other Post Employment Benefits" does not address Elected Officers of the City, their DROP accounts or any other aspect of their retirement plan with the City.

Of course that leads to one and only one question. Why not?

Elected Officials can vest into the system with only four years of service, if they are over 55. Elected officers can purchase retirement service credits. Elected officers contribute the smallest portion of their city pay of any employee group yet are compensated with the largest pension multiplier and shortest vesting period.

To quote a local reporter on one of San Diego's TV news stations.... "It Ain't Right"

Anonymous said...

Expanding on what Just Wondering was if the CA, an elected official who is elligible to enter the retirement system, decides to revamp the retirement for everyone except elected officials should not he too be arrested and booked for conflict of interest ala the five city employees who sat on the retirement board, who were put through hell for petty political posturing?

I will not hold my breath for reporters in this town to learn how to actually investigate a story, hell a rookie cop writes a better story in a burglary report than the highly paid reporters and talking heads on TV.


Anonymous said...

You have just put into words what I have been saying all along. WHY are the major and city counsil able to not have to be part of ANY of the reductions and forthcoming pink slips that the rest of the City workers have had shoved down our throats! I have never been a supporter of this mayor or any of the other crooked ones that proceeded him and put this city in the mess it is currently in. I have no idea what the citizen's were thinking when they voted on a strong major system- OMG the things that will come and continue to come make me cringe!

I also remember the mayor saying he would not double dip- LIES!

Get ready...bend over...the worst is yet to come...

Fed Up Sergeant said...

This is the most egregious act Sanders has done yet. How in the hell can he do this and look any employee of this city in the face? I know how he does it... He could give a shit about anyone of us. He simply only cares about himself and his lesbian daughter. Does anyone think for one millisecond he would fight for you if your rights were being trampled? Oh, I forgot, he has trampled our rights every day since he took office, what was I thinking? He was a horses ass as a chief and he is even worse as a mayor. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us this year in negotiations. The POA board is a complete joke. They are making nice with this ass? How the hell can they say that with a straight face? We are screwed.

tseuG said...

In addition, Sanders is recieving the "MP-1" benefit, that he is on record as calling "illegal".

Just Wondering said...

Every City employee, past and present should take 30 minutes of the day and watch City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith’s January 20, 2010, speech before the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. WATCH IT HERE!

Goldsmith, without any hedging says the City’s proposals in 1996 and 2002, that is, MP1 and MP2 were the City’s ideas and done “in the light of day”. He backs this up with an article published in the San Diego Union Tribune on June 21, 1996.

It says, “ [SDCERS] Trustees have been asked by City Manager Jack McGrory to approve a complex set of changes to the $1.6 billion pension system, including giving the city a $110 million break on its contributions over 10 years.”

The next paragraph starts, “McGrory has sweetened the deal by adding benefit boosts for several classes of workers and retirees.”

Read the U/T article HERE!

Goldsmith adds under the subheading, “Slippery Slope?” the author wrote, “But the reduced contribution to the retirement system will have to be made up somewhere down the line. And future taxpayers may get stuck with the bill…

Goldsmith says your Pension is a protected benefit, one protected by the California Constitution and San Diego’s City Charter. These facts are recognized by Governor Swartzenegger and Mayor Sanders.
However, being a lawyer, Goldsmith brings up always present loopholes. Loopholes are the lawyers full employment act.

He says back in 1996 they were sloppy, they, meaning the parties, i.e. first the City Attorney’s office was really sloppy and then the labor groups too. He says they never followed the City Charter and thus litigation will be one of ways the City will attack your benefits. But he adds litigation should be used last, negotiation at the bargaining table should be used first.


Just Wondering said...

Human and spiritual unity BANKRUPTCY kum- bay-ya

Goldsmith gives us an insight to his mind’s eye… he says people have a picture of folks holding hands around a beach fire pit singing Kum-bay-ya and everything is well and good after filing bankruptcy. He says it’s NOT for San Diego.
Chapter nine is much different than corporate or personal bankruptcy and San Diego is NOT insolvent.

He said there are three components: Costs, Benefit and Risk.

Orange County’s 18 month bankruptcy 20 years ago cost that county 100 million dollars and it did NOT change the pension. HELL our city spent 22 million on the Kroll Report just a few years ago and it was just a report.

Goldsmith says a San Diego bankruptcy could easily cost between 100 to 300 MILLION DOLLARS.

What are the Benefits of Bankruptcy?

1. No nonsense Federal Judges.

2. Automatic stays…no civil litigation against the city can proceed, but it’s not permanent. Eventually the cases will be resolved by the bankruptcy court.

3. The court can dissolve existing labor contracts forcing the parties back to renegotiations. Goldsmith clearly pointed out pension benefits are a vested INDIVIDUAL right under our Constitution.

Okay those are the costs and benefits to the city, what are the risks?

1. The court could dismiss the bankruptcy filing.

2. The court has NO POWER to increase taxes.

3. There is also a reported case law where a municipal case was dismissed because a district refused to negotiate with its employees in good faith. It refused to use its powers of assessment or taxes and merely wanted the bankruptcy court to solve its financial woes.

The Other Shoe

So then the other shoe drops… and to put it simply, it’s IMPASSE. To use Goldsmith’s words, the City “has all the marbles.” We have the power, we don’t need the leverage of bankruptcy.


Two tiered systems is the plan. Today, new employees are denied DROP. They received NO RETIREE HEALTH benefits and work longer. For existing employees, Goldsmith hangs his hat on the most reversed court in the nation, the Federal 9th District. That appellate court ruled retiree medical is not a vested personal right. It’s a benefit set for a term or condition of employment and can be changed for existing employees.

Substantially Equal
In a 1954 reform to the City Charter the voters of San Diego changed some of the retirement provisions to include a phrase about pension contributions. In part it says we’re substantially equal partner with regard to contributions to the defined benefit retirement systems.

A Deputy City Attorney in a June 5, 1954 Evening Tribune article is quoted with this very simple explanation, “The City and employees share equally in contributions.”

Goldsmith believes and the State Supreme Court ruled, the city can negotiate substantially equal contributions toward the cost of the employees’ pension. The LOOPHOLE here is what is the true cost of the pension, and who determines it? Seems we may be relying on SDCERS and its actuarial studies as part of future negotiations.

Anonymous said...

Tell me if I'm missing something...I heard the Mayor was on the news saying something to the effect that he was not going to give himself or the city counsel a raise until 2011. Can someone let me know what is going to happen in 2011 that will allow the Mayor to give himself and the City Counsel a raise while he fires 80 plus employees from the police department. He made some kind of statement that they have not had a pay raise since 2003...well join the club. Yes we got a raise and had it all taken back in manditory pay cuts and increases to retirement contributions. Mayor said something about a 15% pay raise for all involved! OMG when will it end! This man is out of control as well as his trying to continue this strong Mayor system! STOP THE MADNESS!