Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Maddness

Many of you know the title as that time when college basketball playoffs hit a frenzied peak. I steal the title to describe the politics of the day. I have sat back watching the idiot Governor of Wisconsin, the goof in the city attorneys office and the little rube on the city council, as well as the others and could find no other way to describe their words and actions. The age we live in, with information technology the was it is employed, the truth is no longer required. The press and politicians have deployed a relentless and unchecked assault of government workers and their wages and benefits for over five years.

When the "Governmental Accounting Standards Board" (GASB) changed the standards of reporting  in 1994 for financial disclosures related to Defined Benefit Retirement Plans (GASB Statement 25), it opened the door for those with an agenda to begin the attacks. This new "rule" required cities who had defined benefit retirement plans to list as debts the "projected" retirement benefit each and every employee would receive if they were to work to maximum retirement age and live to the "life expectancy" age. The GASB added an additional "rule" in GASB Statement 26, that required similar reporting of "Post Employment Healthcare." 

When GASB changed the rules and required cities to list on their financial disclosures these "Debts" they opened the door for the likes of the little rube, Scott Walker, Jan Goldsmith and Mike Aguirre before him, to spin the meaning of this information and use it to further political agendas. Some will ask why now, when the law went fully into effect in 1996. One reason is most people did not understand the rule and many cities, counties and states carried the information in the notes section of the financial reports or as a separate report all together. As information technology began to emerge and reporters looking to make a name for themselves began to cull information from reports and financial disclosures looking for a story, they latched onto this information and the spin began.

Not one of the reporters to use this information cared to educate themselves about the realities of what the numbers meant nor to print the truth when they were given it. The numbers appeared to be so large, they knew they hit on something they could use to win a prized Pulitzer. Win they did, the truth be damned. Enter politicians with a bent to destroy unions and an economy that fell flat on its face and we find ourselves in March Madness. 

A simplistic way of explaining the "unfunded liability" as it relates to GASB 25 & 26 is simple enough. Yet when the press and politicians control the time allowed to provide an explanation and the truth, the rhetoric and spin becomes truth and reality. If you have a mortgage on your home, you most likely know what you owe if you want to pay it off or sell it. Do you know what you would "pay" for the home at the end of say a 30 year mortgage with compounding interest and principle payments? When you list your "debts" do you list what is owed on your mortgage or what you would ultimately pay with interest and principle at the end of 30 years? This is what GASB 25 and 26 is all about. Listing what will be owed (payed to the employee) at the very end of a persons benefit. Logical? Realistic? Accurate? Meaningful? The answer to all of these is NO.

The reason the "Unfunded Liability" has become such an issue, is it is a huge number that most people do not understand. The same would hold true if you listed your mortgage in the same way when applying for any other loan. Try getting a car loan on a police officer salary and having to list your mortgage as a one million dollar plus debt. The fact your monthly payment is within your means, you owe $300,000, the home is valued at $425,000, matters not if you apply the same rule and logic used by the press and politicians.

The rhetoric spun as truth and reality have created such a hate storm toward government workers and their wages and benefits, there is no defending them. In today's "Dialog" the little rube and Jeff Jordan faced off debating the question, "Spare Public Safety Officers From Reforms?" The little rube in his opinion, "Yes, It should include everyone" says the defined benefit retirement plan should be eliminated and ALL employees should be given a 401K style retirement plan, including public safety members. Jordan in his opinion, "No, It pays to exempt Public Safety" says the elimination of the defined benefit retirement is poor public policy and legally and fiscally flawed.

The truth is we as public employees can no longer defend our wages and benefits to the masses. That includes public safety employees. The DOT.COM bubble burst, the economy tanked and millions have lost their jobs. People everywhere have taken a hit to their 401K retirements, their investment savings plans and the equity in their homes. The average taxpayer reads every day that government is having to cut services and eliminate resources to pay for bloated benefits and wages for employees. We are all painted with a dirty brush and labeled greedy. Our wages and benefits are characterized as excessive, bloated, not sustainable and a relic of the past. No opinion piece, letter to the editor or 60 second interview on KUSI will change the perception or reality of the taxpayer to the contrary. Forget the money made by those DOT.COM baby's and the millions upon millions made by workers in private industry. None of that matters today. 

What Scott Walker is doing to Wisconsin is just the beginning of what is to come for government workers across America. The assault on government workers in San Diego began a long ago and shows no sign of ending. The little rube's, Craig Gustafson's and Jan Goldsmith's of the world will continue the onslaught of lies and spin to reach their intended goal of eviscerating the wages and benefits of government workers, including public safety members. We continue to have little recourse and no leverage to stop the bleeding. We do not help ourselves when one of our own betrays the public trust. We cannot continue to defend our current benefits and simply say by reducing or eliminating them we will lose experienced officers and struggle to compete for qualified candidates. As the war against government employee wages and benefits spreads from Wisconsin, we need to offer up reasonable changes to our current benefits. The "status quo" is not acceptable.

I don't know what those changes need to be, but I know they need to be made. We need to explore modifying even those benefits for existing employees to begin to garner some support from taxpayers. We have to preserve the core defined benefits of our retirement as well as retiree medical. To do this will require sacrifice and changes, even to existing benefits for current employees.

In the interim we must act professional and take care of each other.


Anonymous said...

So how do you get to have a blog like this and not get in trouble? Are you aware of our departments dispatchers being fired for face book postings? From what I understand and heard in line up two of the dispatchers were being fired and they mentioned no names or department information. Just some immature post about clothing and being treated bad. They get fired and you get praised... Sheez very unfair is it because your in the drop? I don't think either of them are... But both have taken very good care of me in the field. They are Heros every day. Such a loss to our department. Rant About that... You probably won't post this because it will put you in a bad light

SparkySanDiego said...

I posted your comments "Anonymous" even though you do not have the courage to use your name. I fail to see how your comments put me "in a bad light."

The problem with your comments is you speak of rumor and conjecture from a position of not having facts to support anything you write. I will not comment on anything you mentioned regarding a private, personnel issue. Your comments about their issues are out of line and not professional.

In regard to my "not getting in trouble" due to my writing this BLOG; how ignorant and naive you are. I walk a tight rope every time I press the send button to post a new rant. I have few if any supporters among the command staff of the SDPD and could most likely NOT find a supporter among any of the elected politicians in San Diego. I have paid a high price for my willingness to write about the issues in San Diego politics.

I use my name and do not hide behind my computer screen when I write my BLOG. I wish those who take the time to post comments could have the courage to do the same. I do understand why so many do not, but posting rumors, information regarding personnel issues or derogatory comments about individuals without taking ownership diminishes the credibility of the information.

I won't rant about the issues you posed above. I would also suggest you not either.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anonymous on this one. I have come to the realization that "freedom of speech" only applies to "blog writers" Ever notice that whenever anyone questions or comments about something that is written in blogs the blog writers get offended and some even throw tantrums that they are being questioned about it !! How is it that they are the only ones who can say anything about anybody and not be willing to answer to any of the crap they "blog" about?? Makes no sense to me and never will.....My motto is if you can dish it out you sure as hell better be able to take it !!!

SparkySanDiego said...

Another "Anonymous" comment that attempts to take a shot but ends up becoming a self inflicted wound.

I have never thrown a "tantrum" nor been offended at a persons comments to my blog... that is for those who stand tall and take responsibility and ownership for their words. I have also not edited nor failed to post the comments of people writing about my rants with the exception of one poster who I know personally who does not write about my rants but issues she has. I respect anyone willing to show their face and take ownership of their words. I also have little respect for the "Anonymous" poster.

I am responsible for every word I write. This BLOG is mine. I do it for my pleasure, not yours. If you dis-like something you read here, get over it. If you can't get over it, move on and read something else. The purpose of the comment section of a BLOG is to comment on the posters rant. When someone hides behind "Anonymous" I can't get worked up or take serious anything they say.

Feel free to leave your comment anytime... you will neither offend me nor get me to throw a tantrum... but understand I will fire back and point out how wrong you are when it is obvious...

Anonymous said...

You need to go back and re-read what I posted.....Never once were YOU singled out, I said "some" blog writers throw tantrums when they are questioned about certain things said in there blogs. If you chose to take that personally that is on you. I simply was trying to make the point that in my personal experiences/opinions only the blog writer has the right to say whatever they feel and if they happen to be questioned about any of it or express their feelings on what was written "certain" blog writers cant handle it or the truth. Seeing how you have and I quote from your response "no respect for me or take anything I have to say seriously" because for certain reasons I choose to respond anonymously ?? how mature is that?? I rest my case. P.S. not all anonymous responders are bad people.....take care.

feduptaxpayer said...

What you are missing with your comments is that we taxpayers are just plain fed up with paying public employees benefits and retirement when the percentage being contributed by said public employees is considerably lower than what we private sector employees contribute -- if you contribute anything at all! You can blame the "little rube", Governor Walker or the Easter Bunny, but the fact is, WE AREN'T GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! This is all what the November elections and the Tea Parties have all been about! The government is not going to continue taking our hard-earned money from us to pay for things that don't benefit us, and -- news flash here -- public employees' retirement, doesn't benefit us!!! Pay for your own damn retirement, just like we have to do! Don't like it? QUIT! I seriously doubt the department would miss an obvious ass like you!

SparkySanDiego said...

feduptaxpayer, you have not a clue what reality is. Public Employees contribute HALF of the money necessary to fund our retirement. We pay, percentage wise, much more than you do as a private employee. If your company pays into Social Security as well, your employer is paying a similar amount as the City is for our Defined Benefit. The rub for us is you get both, we don't. We have DROP which is a great benefit that cost you NOTHING.

We pay for our benefits just like you do. We also pay taxes, thus we pay for our own salary and benefits twice. Your ignorant rant is just that, a rant that is ignorant. If you care to get the FACTS I will gladly meet you anytime and show you pay stubs and the SDCERS program benefit plan in black and white. I know this will not fit your agenda but the offer is open.

Wyatt Earp said...

To feduptaxpayer,
You are a flat-out uneducated ignorant human being. Obviously, you believe everything you hear and read from the Little Tiny Itsy-Bitsy Rube and his personal newspaper. The Little "P.O.S." Rube and his followers are politically immature as is most of the other polticians in this city. Educate yourself first before you comment on a public blog....and don't forget, when you call 9-1-1 we'll be there for you!

feduptaxpayer said...

Go ahead and post that pay stub and proof of how much you actually contribute to your benefits and retirement and MAYBE I'll give you that one, but don't presume to know how much we private sector workers pay for ours since they vary greatly. However, Governor Walker was simply asking for the teachers in his state to pay 5% of their benefits and 12.5% of their retirement--nowhere NEAR what we private sector folks pay! He was also looking to do away with collective bargaining since that is a union vice that has no place in public sector unions where the taxpayers foot the bills! Also, what private sector employees get to retire at 55, with full benefits these days when our life expectancy is more in the 75 year range rather than the 62 year range your contracts were built on? Changes to these pensions have been long overdue, whether you like that or not! So, No, I'm not a "flat-out uneducated, ignorant human being" posting an "ignorant rant" and I get my information from many resources before forming my opinions. You want to prove how wronged you are by the SD Mayor, then put the proof here for all to see!

As for you, Wyatt Earp, I will give my opinion when and where I want. Just because it doesn't agree with yours doesn't make me uneducated or ignorant. The fact that you claim I am just shows how ignorant you are! You, and Sparky, give SDPD a bad name! Maybe just another reason the taxpayers are sick of having to pay more and more to support you in your retirement!

Wyatt Earp said...

To feduptaxpayer,

You are ignorant. You are ignorant to the facts involving police officers and you know it. Again, you believe everything you read and hear from the Little "Itsy-Bitsy" Rube. We are talking about police officers here...police officers! The chosen few who do a job that most people who try just can't do. There is no job in the "private sector" that equals what a police officer does---none. There's a reason we get to retire at 50 or 55.
Therefore, you as a taxpayer, WILL pay us our hard-earned pensions and retiree health because we are the ones protecting you and your family--nobody else. We arent teachers or desk clerks or secretaries or computer programmers or gardeners, etc. Taxpayers get their moneies worth from us..

The Little "P.O.S." Itsy-Bitsy Rube and his followers can care less. He cares about being mayor in a politcally immature city because he knows he has follwers, like you, who don't understand the true facts either. This "Rube" is the same guy is shows up late to a police officer's funeral, killed-in-the-line of duty- and then sits there texting and leaves early.

You can give your opinion all you want, I like to hear it. But, don't be ignorant to the facts, do research and find out the real truth. Oh, and don't forget, when you dial 9-1-1 a police officer is on his way to help you and your family...

SparkySanDiego said...

Hey “fedup” how goes it? Have to laugh at your dribble. The average cop contributes over $1,200 a month to his/her retirement. They also pay upwards of $500-600 a month for medical insurance if they have a family. This, on-top of an average reduction in pay and benefits topping 20%. The average private citizen can get similar insurance (in some instances better coverage) for less money thru the internet. The average retiree pays $400-600 a month for his/her spouse’s insurance. We also do not have Social Security nor Medicare because the City opted us out.

Walker’s “plan” is about politics, not the budget or balancing the books. You continue to harp on what you private sector folks pay for things. In most instances you private folks get bonuses based on job performance and the income the company makes. In good years you far outpace public workers in gross salary and the ability to contribute to your 401K and retirement savings plans (Which I am sure is not much more if at all more than we pay into ours) as well as buy the best toys and send your kids to private schools. We on the other hand work in a “not for profit” industry and do not share in the profits nor get bonuses for the amount of work we generate or do. Now that the economy has fallen and your bonuses are nil and you have to make ends meet, we public servants are now the bad guys. You want the services but do not want to pay for them.

Here in San Diego and across the state, public safety employees are prohibited from striking by law. We negotiate in good faith and with little or no leverage. It is called “collective bargaining” but in reality it is not. It’s a take it or leave it proposition in most cases. We bargained for the benefits we have and have earned them and then some. We seldom have a holiday off, we work 24/7, nights, weekends, rain or shine. We are prone to injury and are at risk often when dealing with those customers who have other ideas.

You will get no argument from me that 55 is unrealistic an age to retire in most cases. In public safety I would say 55 are where you want them to retire. But your statement “full benefits” is grossly inaccurate. The MAXIMUM retirement benefit for public safety workers in San Diego is 90% and only after 30 years service. There are not many who do the full 30 and thus do not reach that 90% mark. General workers have to work many more year past the 30 year mark to make it anywhere near the 90% mark. Most receive less than 75% of their salary that on average is less than $50,000.

feduptaxpayer said...

Nice try, Sparky. Just a few points you, once again, have wrong...The average salary and benefits of a public sector employee in our country is over $120,000 -- by contrast, the private sector average is $76,000! Do the research! I know what I'm talking about here! Consequently, we AVERAGE private sector folks don't stand a chance of sending our kids to private schools unless both spouses are making at least the average!

You say you pay $600-800 a month for your families healthcare but it's cheaper on-line? Then refuse the city's plan and buy your own! Duh?! Same with the retirees' spouse -- just because you are ineligible for MediCare, it doesn't make your spouse ineligible!

As for the AVERAGE cop paying over $1,200 a month for their retirement while making "less than $50k" -- BULL! The only ones paying that $1,200 a month are the folks who've been there long enough to be making more like $120,000 -- let's be honest here, Sparky!

As for bonuses, you don't get bonuses because you don't generate any income! Simple economics here, Sparky! And it's not the lack of private sector bonuses that has brought this all to the forefront. It's the fact that people are living far longer than in the past, thus costing far more in their retirement pay and healthcare combined with the fact that the public sector workforce now more than doubles the number of employees in the manufacturing workforce. We have never, in the history of this great country, had so many people employed by the government and, thus, being paid for by the taxpayer! We simply can't afford it anymore!

You knew about working holidays, 24/7, being in harm's way, etc. when you took the job so quit complaining about it. Try talking to a few military members who have been at war, away from their families for months and years at a time and receive far less in pay and benefits than you do! They're not screaming for more! They just continue to proudly do what they signed up to do and hope that they come home in one piece! How about following their lead?

As for you, Wyatt Earp -- maybe if you had worked harder in school and weren't so illiterate you wouldn't have had no other choice but to be a cop. But, you did CHOOSE to be a cop! You knew what you were getting into when you raised your hand. Now, things have changed with the economy and you have to do a little re-negotiation for your benefits...waaaahhhh! Welcome to the real world! And why don't you actually look at the realities of the world around you for a change and maybe you'll understand why "the little rube" has no choice but to be making these changes! Don't like it? QUIT! You are definitely replaceable!

SparkySanDiego said...

I have to admit I am unedumacated and ill-literate, or is it ill-legitimate" I can never remember which one applies. I know I am impotent cause I wear a hat sometimes but that is besides the point.

Feduptaxpayer highlights what is wrong with the tea party wonks and the republican party and many of its members.

Keep the babble coming fedup. I enjoy the huumor in your tidaids. My unedumacated self can't figures out how to use the spell check so my words sometimes get messed up. But you get my ideas I hope.

Have a wonderful day. Oh, one more thing; when your house gets broken into, your car stolen or you or a family member gets mugged; call your local thug. Better yet call Carl, he has all the answers.

Wyatt Earp said...

To feduptaxpayer,

You, Chip Franklin, and Hedgepock must smoke the same dope! You are all intentionally misinformed idiots. Crap, each time I read your pathetic tribble you sound more ignorant that your previous post! If you attended college they should be ashamed having you as an alumnus!

You and your brother, the Little Tiny-Itsy-Bitsy Rube, has got you smitten like school girl. Your numbers are not only factually flawed but you ACTUALLY believe what you write and read from the U.T.

Just to set the record straight: I and most lawmen dont make $120-K a year--not even close. Most of us have BA's and a good percentage have Masters as well; yet we pay exactly what Sparky said.

Its a great job and we deserve to have Retiree Health, and by gosh YOU will pay me that when I retire soon. We have earned it, it was promised and the real TAXPAYERS will pay for me. That's why I signed up and it took 1.5 years to get hired.

It sure is easy for you, Franklin, and the Tiny-Itsy Bitsy-Rube to sit on your perch and spout flat-out lies about police pay and benefits. You three have no absolutely idea what you are talking about but that doesnt matter to you. Like I said before there is no job in the private sector that comapres to what we do----that's why we get defined pension benefits. Dont believe me?---then ask the DA---the next mayor of your city.

You're just prime example of a San Diegan that is politically immature and cowardly. Yes, I just called you a coward!

And don't forget, when you call 9-1-1 a police officer will be there to take your abuse and help you an dyour family whenever you need it!

feduptaxpayer said...

Sparky and Wyatt, You two sure do make me laugh. Luckily, I don't live in your city so I don't have to worry about the protection of my family from policemen like you two wonks. Thank you, God!!!

Your arrogance and ignorance of the true facts is hilarious! Keep believing what you will, but in the end I, and those who actually search out the truth, will be proven right and those like you will still be wandering around angry and making yourselves look stupid by spouting your ridiculous dribble that we all know is nothing but that!

You two truly are pathetic and I pity the citizens of the City of San Diego if you two aren't a huge minority in the SDPD!

Wyatt Earp said...

To feduptaxpayer,

As Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men, "You can't handle the truth!"

And don't forget, rain or shine, when you need help a cop will be there for you....and your family.