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?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crime is Down; Let's Celebrate - RIGHT

Did you catch the latest numbers released today showing crime is down in San Diego? If you missed them don't fret, they were like everything else in this city; baloney. As with any statistic it is all in what and how the information is compiled. I was writing my rant in my pea brain today as I drove home in traffic, when I received the below press release from the SDPOA. I think this release hit a grand slam explaining the flaws with the results of the Uniform Crime Report Data and the claim of record low crime in San Diego.

For Immediate Release
Uniform Crime Report Data Not True Indicator of Crime in San Diego
Selective Inclusion of Crime Details Results in Deceptively Low Statistics

San Diego, CA – January 27, 2010 – The San Diego Police Officers Association, Inc. (SDPOA) today urges restraint over celebrating today’s crime statistics announcement by the City of San Diego and issued the following statement from Brian R. Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association:

“The SDPOA is always proud of the men and women who wear the uniform and play such a key role in keeping San Diegans safe. Any decrease in crime rate is a commendable event; however, we believe that it is a disservice to citizens to not provide a full and complete picture of actual crime statistics.

When it comes to reviewing crime rate statistics, as is the case with any data, it is important to remember that the manner of calculating results can be more telling than the actual results.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR) that produced today’s crime data released by the City of San Diego does not fully reflect actual crime rate for San Diego. The UCR qualifies its own rankings by saying that the data does not provide insight into many variables and can ‘lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses.’ The UCR openly states that the rankings are a quick overview and can create misleading perceptions about actual crime rate.

For example, the report states that the number of rapes is down, but that only constitutes one of 17 sex crimes reported to the police department. The UCR does not take into account date rape by drugs, same sex rape and spousal rape, to name a few.

All victims of crimes deserve to have their crimes identified and reported yet the UCR reporting process does not reflect all crime data from a major municipality like San Diego. As a result, incomplete data is often used to report on increases or decreases in the crime rate.

The SDPOA would like to work to develop a crime data analysis system that provides the public with an accurate assessment of San Diego’s actual crime rate. The information provided by the Uniform Crime Report could be one component of such a comprehensive analysis; however, it should not be the sole data source for reporting on the current crime rate in America’s Finest City.”

The Uniform Crime Report cautions agencies from relying exclusively on UCR data as the sole indicator of crime in their area. The advisory states, in part; “These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city county, state, region or other jurisdiction. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.

About the San Diego Police Officers Association
 The San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA) is the only recognized bargaining unit for the over 1,800 members of the San Diego Police Department. The SDPOA was established in 1912 and incorporated in 1953 to assist San Diego police officers in issues related to wages, hours and working conditions. The SDPOA also aids members and their families in sickness, distress and death, and strives to improve social relations and welfare among the members. The San Diego Police Officers Association members include over 98% of the San Diego Police force and represent all ranks within the department, including the Chief of Police.

Reality is, "REPORTED" crime is down; not crime itself. Citizens calling to report crimes are often directed to the telephone report unit, only to find themselves waiting extended periods of time (hours turn into days) and often are not following through on their reporting out of frustration due to the long wait or lack of follow through (missed call backs or no call back at all). Many more citizens are simply not even making the effort to report their crimes because they believe, and rightly so, that nothing will come of the report. More alarming is the number of crimes being "Maytag-ed" by officers on a routine basis. Trying to keep up with calls for service and remain free for priority calls, which are up and more violent than in the past, officers are finding excuses for not completing crime reports in all instances.
The other statistic I found troubling is the claim response times remained low for the three highest priority calls. Officers responded to over 660,000 calls for service, with the severity of calls increasing from the prior year. Officers responded to more calls with the potential for violence and at the same time fielded fewer officers to handle these calls. By the grace of god and a lot of luck we were spared the loss of an officer in 2009. How much longer can ou luck hold? With the number of new, energetic and enthusiastic officers in the field and fewer experienced officers, the odds are largely against us.
The claims today do not surprise me but give cause for concern. Painting a picture of all is well and San Diego is safer than ever is a disservice to the citizens we serve. We strive to earn the support of the public and yet on a daily basis we let so many down. The citizen who was a victim, sitting at home watching the news report these low crime statistics, will no doubt have a different opinion knowing the truth about their experience.
Here is a statistic I would challenge you to look at; determine how many calls were received by communications; routed to the telephone report unit; and how many actual reports were taken. This would no doubt provide insight into the reason for the low numbers, but not support any claim of lower crime.

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.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Strange Bedfellows?

Sitting here this evening watching Jeopardy, I began scanning various internet news sites, Twitter, Facebook and the many BLOGS I follow regularly. While scanning the various posts on Twitter there were several that caught my eye causing me to stop and wonder. Before I get into the content, I want to lay a foundation for where this post is going.

Kimberly Hale is the lobbyist hired by the SDPOA in September 2009 to assist them with lobbying efforts and public communications. Ms. Hale is a Director at Public Policy Strategies, a lobbying firm owned by Tom Shepard, who ran the mayor’s two election campaigns. Ms. Hale is married to Darren Pudgil, the mayor’s communications director. Ms. Hale is the Vice Chair of the San Diego County Taxpayer’s Association (SDCTA). She is also a board member for the San Diego Downtown Partnership who hail themselves as the “voice of downtown.” Ms. Hale is a part time user of Twitter and Facebook.

Lani Lutar is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the SDCTA, whose written creed is; “The San Diego Taxpayers Association is a watchdog organization that looks out for your tax dollars. SDCTA takes a leadership role in fiscal oversight of local government and aggressively resists unwarranted taxes and fees, discriminatory regulations, and ill-advised public expenditures. We challenge local government at all levels to be accessible, responsive, efficient and fair.” Ms. Lutar took over for Lisa Briggs in 2006, when Ms. Briggs accepted a job with the mayor. Ms. Briggs represented the mayor at the table during negotiations with the SDPOA and the city for several years. From 1999 to 2004, Ms. Lutar served in leadership roles on several non-partisan San Diego City council candidate campaigns. In 2005, Ms. Lutar served as an advisor for the mayor’s City Hall Reorganization group. Ms. Lutar has been a strong and loud voice in San Diego, calling for reform and advocating the reduction of police officer benefits and retirement.

Over the past several months, Ms. Lutar and Ms. Hale have traded tales of woe while sitting side by side getting pedicures; or planning this year’s SDCTA Watchdog Awards and Fleece Dinner; or having breakfast or lunch together.

What caught my eye tonight were several Twitter posts from both ladies about their activities. Ms. Hale was hired by the SDPOA to assist them with lobbying city hall and crafting the association’s message. The mayor is clearly not a friend of the association and has gone out of his way to destroy a once proud police department and the men and women who serve San Diego. His actions dating back before his election have been detrimental to the members of the SDPOA and public safety in San Diego.

In a Twitter post on November 1, 2009, at 12:54 PM, Ms. Hale wrote, “The three p's of life...talking politics and policy while getting a pedicure with Lani Lutar.”

In another Twitter post on January 21, 2010, at 12:14 PM, Ms. Hale wrote, “Sitting at the Poseidon Resources' table getting ready to be sworn in by my fav Mayor Jerry Sanders.” Ms. Hale was attending the San Diego Partnership Installation Luncheon to be sworn in (not sure to what).

In another Twitter post on January 24, 2010, at 11:05 AM, Ms Hale wrote, “At breakfast with one of my besties, Lani Lutar. we heart egg whites!”

This afternoon, January 25, 2010, Ms. Hale wrote on Twitter, “We had a fab SDCTA Watchdog Awards and Fleece Dinner planning meeting, you will love this year's theme...stay tuned.”

On January 20, 2010, at 7:44 PM, Ms. Lutar wrote on Twitter, “Go Carl! Keep it up! RT @carldemaio: I’m appeariing on CW-6 Morning Show tomorrow at 7am to talk pension reform.”

In another Twitter post by Ms. Lutar on January 12, 2010, at 10:24 PM, she wrote, “We are slowly but surely having an impact on pension reform in the region. The smaller cities rarely get media coverage for their efforts.”

There are many more posts related to “pension reform” posted by Ms. Lutar on Twitter that would concern any police officer who reads them. Ms. Lutar falls prey to the little rube, using his twisted, exaggerated and misleading information to call for further reductions and “reforms” to police officer pensions and benefits.

I think you can get the idea of why the posts on Twitter caught my eye and caused me to do a little more reading. Over the past several weeks, a number of officers have brought up Ms. Hale and what it is she does for us and more importantly whose side is she representing? Politics makes for strange bedfellows and sometimes the lines are blurred and the web broad to catch what is thrown in your general direction. Knowing where the line is and which side you occupy is extremely important, especially in politics.

The Twitter posts and the associations Ms. Hale is a part of are troubling on the surface. To whom does she truly represent? Can Ms. Hale effectively represent the interests of the SDPOA and at the same time participate in policy discussions as Vice Chair of the SDCTA or a board member of the San Diego Downtown Partnership? Does the comment written by Ms. Hale last week about the mayor generate any concern? Is it just me?

Members of the San Diego Police Officer’s Association are concerned for their future. They have seen the little rube and many others, over and over again spinning, twisting and flat out lying about their retirement. We have all sat defenseless as the little rube and others call for pension reforms thru reductions and elimination of earned and vested benefits with nary a peep from our association.

When can members expect to hear or see our message and the direction the board of directors is taking this association and its members? How much longer is the little rube going to be allowed to preach his lies before the association counters the information with factual data and stop his campaign and assault on members and their benefits? Last week the association served the mayor with a public records request seeking information related to any study the mayor may have undertaken related to DROP neutrality. This is long overdue and a welcome action on our behalf.

The members are looking for their association to do more. Is anyone listening?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Political Opinion

It has been a long time since I have taken the time to read material about our pension, DROP and retiree medical. This weekend I read with interest our illustrious City Attorney’s latest attempt at a legal opinion (Opinion Number 2010-1) related to “Pension Benefits and Other Post-Employment Benefits.” “Just Wondering” beat me to the punch in detailing the highlights of this political opinion. I call it a “political” opinion because I firmly believe a first year law student could challenge much of what has been written and successfully refute the many opinions offered.

I believe, as “Just Wondering” has stated, the “opinion” is a clear play book of where the City is headed in negotiations that have just started. The city attorney’s writings will no doubt result in an “Un-Fair” labor practice complaint by the other unions when changes are imposed because the city team is unwilling to change their demands during negotiations this year. As police officers, we cannot file “Un-Fair” labor practice complaints because we are not covered by the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB).

The issue most on my mind as I read the opinion is the retiree medical benefits and the changes already undertaken and changes undoubtedly coming. I entered the DROP in June of 2007. When I signed my “DROP Contract” I had to initial twenty-four (24) items agreeing to and acknowledging the terms of DROP. The title of the form; “DEFERRED RETIREMENT OPTION PLAN (DROP) ELECTION TO PARTICIPATE IN DROP AND AGREEMENT TO TERMINATE EMPLOYMENT” is four (4) pages in length and spells out the terms.

The salient points of the agreement are in bold type. The agreement as written on the first page reads;

“Once you enter DROP, you will not be able to change your election to participate in DROP or your agreement to leave employment and retire, regardless of what happens between now and your retirement date. For example, if you elect to participate in DROP and your family circumstances change such that you would rather continue working, you still must retire at the end of your designated DROP period. Also, if any benefit improvements occur between the time you enter DROP and the date you retire, you will not be eligible for these improvements.

This Agreement is designated to help you think through your decision to participate in DROP. You should consider this decision very carefully. This Agreement asks you specific questions to ensure the Retirement Administrator and the Retirement Board that you have, in fact, carefully considered your decision to participate in DROP, and that you understand the consequences of your decision. In fact, your decision is so important that you will have 7 calendar days to reconsider your election to participate in DROP after you sign it.

Please take these questions and this Agreement very seriously. If anything is unclear, do not complete this Agreement without first speaking to a Retirement System staff for clarification.

The Retirement System and your employer will rely on the following facts. Each is important because it demonstrates you have carefully considered your election to participate in DROP.”

The process is clear for entering DROP. Each person sits with a Retirement System staff person who explains all of the details of the agreement. On page 2 of the agreement there are ten (10) statements you must initial. The eight statement states;

“I understand that if benefits are improved or otherwise changed after I enter DROP, through meet and confer or any other process, I will not be eligible for any of these benefit improvements or changes.”

In 2007, when I signed my DROP contract agreement, the MOU with the SDPOA for which I and the City were bound, stated I would receive retiree medical benefits; my DROP account would earn guaranteed interest in an amount equal to the amount earned by the plan (the amount to be set by the actuary as the assumed rate) and the annuity was set at 8%.

According to the agreement (contract) I signed, the city could not change these agreed upon “retirement benefits.” First the change in the amount of interest earned on DROP accounts was forced upon DROP participants; then the retiree medical insurance benefit was reduced; and finally the annuity interest rate was reduced.

According to the DROP agreement I entered into; “if benefits are improved or otherwise changed after I enter DROP, through the meet and confer or any other process, I will not be eligible for any of these benefit improvements or changes.” Remember the first line of the last paragraph on the first page of my DROP agreement; “The Retirement System and your employer will rely on the following facts.” Yet the City Attorney has opined the city can make changes at will and I am bound by these changes. So my signature on the agreement seems to only bind ME to the agreement.

Let’s take a look at what the City Attorney wrote in his latest opinion regarding Retiree Health Insurance. Beginning on page 54 of the opinion the City Attorney discussed the “RETIREE HEALTH BENEFIT.” I believe the City Attorney’s opinion is clearly not supported by the facts.

On page 59, the Purpose and Intent of Division 12 of the Municipal Code was set forth as follows:

“Effective August 1, 1997, a health insurance program shall be offered to Health Eligible Retirees as set forth in this Division. This benefit shall be administered by the Retirement System, Notwithstanding any other interpretation of law to the contrary, it is the intent of the City Council to deem this benefit as defined and vested within the meaning of City Charter section 143.1 for those individuals who are retired on the date this benefit becomes effective and thus attain the status of Health Eligible Retirees by operation of law. Health Eligible Retirees may enroll in a City Sponsored Health Insurance Plan or participate in the plan of their choice, subject to payment and reimbursement limitations set forth in this Division. For active employees, this benefit may only be modified in accordance with provisions set forth in section 23.1204 and after a vote of approval by active Members. This City Sponsored Health Insurance Plan shall include at least on HMO plan and at least one PPO plan.”

Clearly in my mind, the City Council agreed to provide retirees Health Insurance when they enacted the above Municipal Code. “The retiree health benefit was initially created when the City withdrew from the Social Security System, effective January 1, 1982. The City Council first authorized the establishment of a City-sponsored group health insurance plan for eligible retirees on January 4, 1982. The City declared that certain benefits would be provided to employees in lieu of social Security participation including City-sponsored group health insurance for eligible retirees of the City. The City Council stated, “it is the intent of this Council to provide such coverage as a permanent benefit for eligible retirees.”

When I entered DROP, I became a “Health Eligible Retiree” if you apply the ruling in Thorning v. Hollister School District, 11 Cal. App. 4th 1598 (1992). The last paragraph of the City Attorney’s political opinion clearly makes my case. The City Attorney wrote;

“In addition to the holding in Thorning, there are several factors that support the conclusion that retiree health benefits as to retirees are vested. First, unlike active employees, retirees can demonstrate a detrimental reliance on the representations and promises made by the City in relation to the provision of the benefit. Second, unlike active employees, retirees have retired with the actual provision of the benefit. Third, unlike most active employees, retirees likely were employed in the 1981-1982 time period when the City ceased Social Security participation, and in turn promised a retiree health benefit. Fourth, unlike active employees, retirees are not represented by the employee bargaining groups that negotiate changed in the benefit. Even if the court does not find the retiree health benefit to be a vested benefit for retirees, it is likely that retirees can successfully claim that the City is estopped from eliminating or detrimentally modifying their benefit.”

The contract I signed states my benefits could not be altered for the better or worse through the collective bargaining process (meet and confer). The Retirement System recognizes me as a “retired” member; the City recognizes me as an “active employee” and subject to all changes.

The City continues to alter the DROP contract I entered into in good faith. The City Attorney opines this is acceptable and the contract I signed is not binding on them. The mayor reduces retiree medical insurance, forcing hundreds to retire before anticipated and refuses to acknowledge a twenty-eight (28) year agreement entered into when then Mayor Pete Wilson asked employees to withdraw from Social Security with the promise of a City provided retiree health insurance.

The posturing, pontificating and continued attack of employees and their benefits is unconscionable. The press, members of the city council, mayor and pundits all spin, twist, exaggerate and flat out lie about current benefits with impunity. The mayor if you remember said DROP and our other retirement benefits were “political” and he refused to tell the truth about them from the very beginning. His political career more important to him than honesty, integrity, or the men and women who put their lives on the line on a daily basis.

To all of those already retired, it appears the City Attorney has put to rest any thoughts of going after any of your benefits. Rest easy and enjoy the retirement you earned and paid for. It is also clear the City Attorney has given a license to the mayor to further eviscerate retirement benefits of Police Officers.

The little rube, Lani Lutar, editorials in the Union Tribune and others continue to assail benefits earned by Police Officers as being excessive and not sustainable. The mayor made a comment at the beginning of his State of the City address that highlighted why you should all be concerned with the people who a clamoring for reductions to your benefits. The mayor was ad libbing at the beginning of the address and not following his prepared speech. He laughed and said his staff gets nervous when he goes off the script. No doubt his many handlers have been telling him he needs to satisfy the calls for further reductions and elimination of benefits.

The latest revelation the city is required to contribute an additional $19 million dollars to the Retirement System should not come as a surprise to anyone. The mayor forced hundreds of senior employees to leave city service and scare hundreds more to enter DROP, in many cases years before planned as well as refusing to allow new entries into the system and the layoffs of hundreds; all contributing to fewer dollars being contributed by members requiring the City to make up the difference. This is but a drop in the bucket of things to come because of the City’s short sighted actions.

The worst is yet to come in my opinion. I am a glass half full type of person but also a realist. With the current climate and lack of testicular fortitude to do what is right, we are left with politicians who simply lick a finger and place it in the air to gage current wind direction so they can ensure they are not heading into that wind for fear of having a rough go of it.