Sunday, October 03, 2010

CMOfcr Speaks Out

A COSTA MESA OFFICER SPEAKS OUT
Just before midnight a person who chose the pen name of CMOfcr posted a comment on my recent blog entry regarding the letter I received from Planning Commission Chairman and city council candidate Jim Righeimer's lawyer (and brother-in-law). You can read that entry HERE. In fact, CMOfcr was apparently so excited, or agitated, about getting his comment posted that he submitted it twice, a minute apart. Either that or my blog host, Blogger, had the hiccups, which happens from time to time.

PUBLISHED AS A COMMENT
Regardless, I received it and only noticed it this morning. I posted the comment on the correct blog entry, but felt it was too important, too powerful, to leave to chance my readers seeing it. So, I've also published it on this entry, below.

I ADMIT MY PRO-PUBLIC SAFETY BIAS
Before some of you loyal, but critical, readers get your shorts in a wad, I fully admit to a pro-police bias. Actually, it's a pro-public safety bias, because I also admire and support the efforts of those brave men and women in the fire service. Many of you know my best friend since we both were five years old was a career Los Angeles Police Department officer - 31 years on the job before retiring. Through him I know many, many other police officers - men and women I admire for their dedication and sacrifice as they "protect and serve" us all. Recent events in our city have also introduced me to officers on the Costa Mesa Police Department.

DON'T KNOW WHO HE IS...
I do not know the identity of CMOfcr, but since he or she has seen the letter sent to me and members of the CMPD, I will assume the writer is, in fact, an officer in the Costa Mesa Police Department. I'm grateful for this comment because it provides us with a little perspective in this highly volatile issue.

Without further editorial comment, here is the submission in it's unedited entirety. I tinkered with it, breaking it into paragraphs to make it more easily read, but that's it:

I have been a Costa Mesa resident for over 30 years. My wife and I are raising our children here, my folks still live in town. This is home. I’m sure that I have a lot in common with my fellow residents. Besides living here, I am also a Costa Mesa Police Officer. I have seen the letter from Mr. Righeimer’s attorney. Frankly I find it appalling. This blog and others on our community have tried to show Righeimer for what he is, and it frightens him. Hence, he lets his attorney loose. Mr. Righeimer rails against the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), and the pay of our officers and firefighters. However, his representation of the “facts” in his guest editorial, are false. Jim states that a police officer or firefighter can retire at age 50 with “98%” of their salary. That is absolutely untrue.

Under PERS, an employee can collect no more than 90% of their salary at retirement. The safety retirement formula is “3% at 50”. That means an employee is eligible to collect retirement at age 50, and earns 3% per year of service. Thus, it would take 30 years to attain the maximum of 90%. Since you can not become a police officer until age 21 at a minimum, you would have to start at you 21st birthday, work 30 years and retire after 51 to get 90%.

Most officers don’t start until their mid 20’s, so they will retire in their mid 50’s with 30 years of service.
To confuse things even further, the PERS safety retirement was not always 3 at 50. It was 2 at 50. When that formula existed, Costa Mesa was one of only a handful of police agencies to have 3 at 50 in the state. How? The city contributed the employee’s contribution to PERS for 2 at 50, while the employee paid into a 1% annuity to get 3 at 50.

When PERS made 3 at 50 available for all safety retirements, Costa Mesa came under that program. At the time, the police employees gave up the 1% annuity they had been paying into. That money did not come back to the employees. It went into the city’s general fund. Fair enough, since the city was paying the employee’s contribution to PERS.
As far as pay goes: Costa Mesa officers are neither the highest, nor lowest paid officers in the county. We are right in the middle. In fact we have never asked or negotiated to anywhere else. We have always negotiated to be “median”. That fact, however, doesn’t play into the whining, overpaid money grubbing image that Righeimer and his ilk choose to portray. The Police Association, in fact has always enjoyed a good working relationship with city management.

I would also like to point out that the Police Association is not a union. I know some will say it is a matter of semantics, but there are some very fundamental differences. Association membership is optional. An officer can opt in or out at any time. Police agencies are not “union shops” where “union” membership is a condition of employment. Second the Police Association is a registered non-profit organization and makes a number of charitable donations to community groups and events in Costa Mesa every year. Some at the request of Righeimer’s crony Steve Mensinger. The POA makes contributions to his pet football programs every year. Apparently he didn’t get Jim’s memo about taking “union” money. Third, police officers can not and will not strike. We do not hold the city or its citizens hostage, until they bend to our will for pay and benefits. We negotiate and MUTUALLY agree to terms with the city leadership.

Again, we have always had a good working relationship. The police association is no more a union then the National Rifle Association is a union for firearms enthusiasts. Again, that doesn’t fit into Righeimer’s rhetoric.

Labels:

37 Comments:

Blogger Flo Martin said...

3% for 30 years at age 50 is very nice. California teachers max at 2.4@ for 40 years at age 65. I retired from public school teaching at age 61 with 2.2% with 26 years.

In addition, the individual teacher pays about 7% of his/her yearly income into the retirement system. For me, this amounted to close to $7000 a year. Police pay nothing into their retirement? Wow!

The top scale salaries for public school teachers are at about $80, 000. What is the top for police officers? I'm guessing more than double, yes?

Police officers do indeed have a sweet retirement.

10/03/2010 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gail said...

Good for you Flo. People need to speak up about the exorbitant TOTAL compensation paid to our public safety officers.

Costa Mesa is overwhelmed by a minimum wage work force who should not have to pay for overpaid city officials.

10/03/2010 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As well they should.

10/03/2010 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait for Riggy to lose this election and get the hell out of Costa Mesa! Riggy is bad for Costa Mesa

10/03/2010 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Wow Flo, the reason police officers and other public safety workers receive a nice pension is for recognition of their life-threatening duties(unlike those of a teacher). Instead of spreading your hate speech, why don't you simply google "Costa Mesa police salary" and you can see the pay scale for police officers yourself(which is much less than your uneducated rant claims)? Don't forget this doesn't include the 5% cut they took last year; that will require math from you. I sure hope you are not a teacher, unwilling to do quite simple research, because you seem unfit to teach if that is the case. And teachers don't even work the whole year and they have all holidays off, what a luxury, since police and fire work those holidays and summers for normal pay. This officer points out that no officer retires at 50 and that there is a lot misinformation about the public retirement system. Good for him, too bad his logic is wasted on people like you who can't see past your own bias.
By the way, Newport Beach just did a survey and found that 95% of its public is happy with its public safety. I have a feeling we will be losing some officers to Newport Beach PD pretty soon, and that is a loss for us all.

10/03/2010 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Living in Reality said...

Hmmm, I know who this is. This sounds an awful lot like a certain police helicopter pilot who lives in a huge house in Mesa Verde. Here are some facts: 1. This Police officer made $237k in 2008. 2. Current PD pay info is not available because the Police union lawyers are fighting publication of this PUBLIC information. Geoff, ask the City about why this info is not available yet. The Police union is stifling free media. 3. 3% at 50 IS NOT SUSTAINABLE. That comes DIRECTLY from CALPERS. 3% at 50 will bankrupt cities, period. Don't trust me, do the research yourself. 4. Police officers contribute NOTHING towards their retirement. 5. Current City budget spends 3% on entire capital improvement projects and 77% on salaries and benefits. Hey officer, if you want this golden retirement package tell us how to pay for it. No TOT increase will ever solve this. 6. The Costa Mesa Police Association IS A UNION. That is why they are fighting Righeimer so hard. It's why they have launched a smear campaign against him. It's not that Righeimer is soft on crime, it's that he's realistic about what we can and cannot afford. Geoff, you seem like a bright guy. Look at the numbers yourself and then decide whether we can continue this trend. I'm pro law enforcement also, but we need to prioritize things in our City. Fat, bloated retirements for our Police does not make our City safer. Look at the hard numbers and then decide for yourself.

10/03/2010 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Working for You said...

Hello Flo, my father was a teacher and my sister is a teacher. I respect your job and know that both are difficult in their own ways. Teachers take work home to correct. Officers and firefighters take home horrible memories and near death incidents. We depend on you and your fellow workers to help educate our youth and future leaders. You are on your feet all day and we all wear heavy gear that weighs on our backs. You as teachers are forced to dip into your own pockets for paper and supplies. We are placed in the position to protect all from everything nature and society can throw in our direction. Fire personnel are put into place to get to our houses before we stop breathing or to revive our babies when they are choking. They save our possession so they can be just that and not memories.
The fact is that you would not want a 65 year old cop having to get into a fight with a 24 year old husband who has beat his wife and chooses not to go to jail. Let alone face off with a gang member trying to pass his initiation.
The stresses that public safety personnel go through are very high. As a matter of fact, being a firefighter is often ranked as the most dangerous jobs out there.
Officers chase, pursue, get spit on, shot at, hit, stabbed and work 10-12 hours shifts around the clock. Public safety is a benefit that is 24/7 it has no summers or holidays off. I know that teachers are underpaid. My father worked 2nd jobs in the summers just to get us through. I recall having grilled cheese sandwiches and waffles for dinner when money was tight.
The job of a teacher is a tough one is oh so many different ways and you will not get one negative from about that. Do teachers need more funding, “Yes!” But that’s a different fight. Don’t think for a minute that Righeimer dosn't look at teachers groups and retirements as a secondary target. Remember don’t endorse him, he’s much too proud to take it. But that million dollar developer down the street who owns 3 shopping centers and the empty lot, his money would be fine I’m sure.
We are on the same side trust me….

10/03/2010 09:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Please answer the question said...

No progress can be made on this subject unless everyone answers one threshold question:

1. Do you believe that police officers and firefighters should be immune from the impacts of the economic downturn?

Geoff and CMOfcr please answer that question.

10/03/2010 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Police officers and firefighters are not immune to the economy which is why both groups in Costa Mesa took a 5% furlough. The police force is down 10% since this recession started. Vehicles are not being replaced... has anyone else seen a broken down police car on Harbor Blvd. yet? I have, I hope that officer wasn't going to an important call. Does that answer your question? It also goes the other way, when everyone in the private sector was making six figures it was nearly impossible to attract people to be police officers because of the low pay, hours, stress, etc. This is part of the reason 3% at 50 was approved.
And "living in reality" (Jim Righeimer) I don't think you should be allowed to post on websites that you threaten to sue... but I guess that just proves you are unethical- although we already know.

10/04/2010 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Living in Reality said...

I love Costa Mesa PD. They think a furlough is a cut. A "furlough" is NOT a cut. It simply means I won't work, and you won't pay me. Ask the 1 in 8 Californian's out of work if they think a "furlough" is really a cut. The supposed "layoffs" are them simply not filing positions. As far as this whole issue is concerned, it's about GREED. Cut the afterschool programs, cut our street paving, cut the doggie bogs, but don't DARE cut our precious golden retirements. Everyone hurts but them. Our police work hard and deserve a fair retirement--it's just time for them to start contributing towards it like every other American does. Simple as that and I'm glad most Costa Mesan's see it that way.

10/04/2010 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Please answer the question said...

The past does not matter. The percentage of salaries to revenue is too high, and is unsustainable. What are the police and fire association proposals? Enough finger pointing, what do you suggest?

10/04/2010 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger jim said...

Living in reality, the layoffs did happen and they were not "open" positions as you alledge. There are many people on unemplpoyment who were employed by the city last year. Basically you are a liar because California unemployment, much less Orange County unemployment is not 1 in 8. In fact, it is less than 1 in 10. but maybe if you yell your false stats people will start believing them. To say CMPD and CMFD haven't seen cuts is either a bold-faced lie or pure ignorance by you. Which is it? Are you an idiot or a liar?
My suggestion would be for residents of Costa Mesa to do some research on the realities of pay in Orange County police departments, how it effects other cities who do not have this problem, and then post when you actually have a clue as to what is going on. (By the way, reading the Orange County Register does not count as research, and just because Monsoor and Righeimer say it is true does not mean it is). Once you do that, maybe you can join the ranks of people who understand finance and how city government works. Until then, I guess... just keep posting nonsense and we will all keep laughing at your posts.

10/04/2010 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Jim,
Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Life is too short to get so angry and so insulting. Your "hate speech," "uneducated rant claims," and "unfit to teach" are all personal attacks on a little old lady with grey hair, who taught afor over 40 years, the last 5 of which were at the university level,and was named State of California Foreign Language Outstanding Teacher of the Year when you were still in diapers.

I support police officers and firefighters with a passion. Jimmy Owen literally saved my son's life. I attended his funeral just last week and cried my eyes out! I know that their work is dangerous and physically taxing. I just wish they would chip into their retirement benefits like I did.

10/04/2010 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

That makes you a hypocrite Flo... you cry for a firefighter while at the same time calling for cuts to his retirement... one that Owen will never get to enjoy by the way. My attack was not on you personally, it was on your lack of fact checking. I find it very sad that a person with all your alleged education would get on here and spew falsehoods. Get your facts straight and then maybe you will have a point, until then, you do not.

10/04/2010 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Please answer the question said...

Thanks, Jim - as I understand it, your position is that the City and its residents and businesses make all the sacrifices and pony up, regardless of any economic hardship they may be facing, while police and fire pay, benefits and pensions remain completely untouched.

10/04/2010 09:43:00 PM  
Anonymous CMOfcr said...

Flo,

I don't know of any agency that makes $160,000 in salary for officers. Now, for "executive" level (command staff) yes. But certainly not at the line level.

I appreciate that you had to pay into your retirement. Do I feel fortunate that I have not had to? Yes. Would I if that was what my association and city agreed to in negotiations? Without hesitation.

Were I a teacher I could see myself working until 65 without an issue. However, I don't want to be an old officer out there trying to keep up with kids. Simply not safe. Field work is a young person's game.

There just are not enough positions for officers to work "up" or into to in the sunset of their career. Not everyone can be the chief, captain, or work a desk as a detective.

"Please answer", I do not think that public safety folks should be immune from the economic downturn. We are in fact not immune from it. None of our employees are asking for more money,and our employee groups are working with the city to come up with solutions that will work for all involved. The question is, how do we get there. What does that look like?

From my personal experience, my wife who works in the private sector was laid off more than a year ago. It has been a struggle for us. Do I now smile and ask to give some of my current salary back? I'm open to suggestions if you have something meaningful.

"Reality" you do not know who this is. I wish I made $237k. Never made that in a year in my entire life. Not even close to that. To your surprise, you might like to know there are a number of officers who live in town.

Is it that I pay "NOTHING" to my retirement that particularly upsets you, or is it the 3 at 50 that has your knickers in a twist? If I paid an employee contribution towards my pension, would you feel better about 3 at 50? If not, what would give you "warm fuzzies"?

I would like you to cite your source at CALPERS that asserts 3 at 50 is unsustainable.

I would also like to see your source that the city spends only 3% of the total budget on capital improvements. I will agree that salary is the largest expenditure in the budget, but it is that way whether it is the city or a private business. Employee pay is always going to be one of the largest if not largest liability in any entity.

As for union or not union, like I said, some will argue it's semantics. I think I laid out some pretty compelling facts that make the association not a union. Whereas, all you state is that it's evident it's a union because the association is against Righeimer.

10/05/2010 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous CMOfcr said...

"Please answer", I do not think that public safety folks should be immune from the economic downturn. We are in fact not immune from it. None of our employees are asking for more money,and our employee groups are working with the city to come up with solutions that will work for all involved. The question is, how do we get there. What does that look like?

From my personal experience, my wife who works in the private sector was laid off more than a year ago. It has been a struggle for us. Do I now smile and ask to give some of my current salary back? I'm open to suggestions if you have something meaningful.

"Reality" you do not know who this is. I wish I made $237k. Never made that in a year in my entire life. Not even close to that. To your surprise, you might like to know there are a number of officers who live in town.

Is it that I pay "NOTHING" to my retirement that particularly upsets you, or is it the 3 at 50 that has your knickers in a twist? If I paid an employee contribution towards my pension, would you feel better about 3 at 50? If not, what would give you "warm fuzzies"?

I would like you to cite your source at CALPERS that asserts 3 at 50 is unsustainable.

I would also like to see your source that the city spends only 3% of the total budget on capital improvements. I will agree that salary is the largest expenditure in the budget, but it is that way whether it is the city or a private business. Employee pay is always going to be one of the largest if not largest liability in any entity.

As for union or not union, like I said, some will argue it's semantics. I think I laid out some pretty compelling facts that make the association not a union. Whereas, all you state is that it's evident it's a union because the association is against Righeimer.

Sorry I had to break this into two comments. It kept bouncing back as "too large". Apparently, I'm "wordy".

10/05/2010 12:15:00 AM  
Anonymous CMOfcr said...

I would also like to add a side note regarding benefits. As a full-time employee, I receive $631.00 per month towards my benefits. My medical/dental benefits cost about $1,700 per month. I pay almost $1,100 out of pocket for my benefit plan. Not too bad, it could certainly be worse.

Now, city council members, who are part-time elected officials get $1,594 per month from the city for medical coverage. They get the benefit of purchasing their family coverage through the city. Good for them, I don't begrudge them that benefit one bit.

Just wanted to add a little additional perspective.

10/05/2010 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

CMOfcr, actually, apparently Blogger was just messin' with you. All 5 of your comments came through - I just posted the two that were addressed to different commentors. Interesting comment thread, huh? :-)

10/05/2010 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger jim said...

"Please answer the question"... I will repost my comment for you to re-read since you obviously did not understand it the first time.

jim said...
Police officers and firefighters are not immune to the economy which is why both groups in Costa Mesa took a 5% furlough. The police force is down 10% since this recession started. Vehicles are not being replaced... has anyone else seen a broken down police car on Harbor Blvd. yet? I have, I hope that officer wasn't going to an important call. Does that answer your question? It also goes the other way, when everyone in the private sector was making six figures it was nearly impossible to attract people to be police officers because of the low pay, hours, stress, etc. This is part of the reason 3% at 50 was approved.

Now I will summarize for you...
Costa Mesa Police Force is down 10%(officers) this does not include other staff that was also laid off in July or the numbers would be higher.

Costa Mesa Police took a 5% furlough...i.e. pay cut

Other cuts have been made within the department like vehicles not being replaced/fixed, officers not receiving training, all of which has been previously reported in the papers, etc.

So, to further clarify, Costa Mesa police have been hit by the recession as well. I don't think I can be much clearer than that for you... sorry to burst your bubble (again).

10/05/2010 01:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Please answer the question said...

CMOfcer,

Thank you.

I do think that police and fire should retire after 30 years with a good retirement.

I also think that police and fire should be well compensated. The current pay scales as posted on the City's website are fair and I have no problem with them.

I think that police and fire should have fully paid medical, vision, dental, disability, AD&D life insuarance. The individual officer or firefighter should pay a contribution towards family member insurance coverage, but it should be reasonable. Ours is $200/mo for full family HMO coverage.

I think that police and fire should pay the full employee contribution to the 3% @ 50 plan. City payment of that portion is a good economy benefit and is totally inappropriate when so layoffs are occuring and many services are being cut. That should be the starting point of negotiations. You are well compensated, and you can afford to contribute to your own retirement.

Overtime needs to be reformed - dramatically. No private enterprise operates in such a wildly inefficient manner.

Certainly, OT is required for incidents, special details, etc., but the utilization of OT to maintain staffing levels because people take days off or because of contractual issues must end with this contract. The days of public safety folks making 50% and often more of their salary in OT must end. The amount of money spent on OT in 2008 clearly shows that a better option would have been increased staffing.

Bottom line - you do a dangerous, stressful job and you are our most important employees. You should be paid well and have a secure retirement, and the City should make those two items priorities, but the amounts must be realistic and sustainable. Currently, they are not, and that is simply a fact.

This economic downturn is unprecedented and that means that the existing models and practices are things of the past.

10/05/2010 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Please answer the question said...

Jim, I was referring to your 10/4/10 2:31pm post. I suggest that you read it again. No one is denying the 5% concession, but that is over. You did not once sayanything about any future concessions, and implied exactly the opposite with your comment about other police deaprtments. You suggested that we don't know anything about municipal finances, which is incorrect.

10/05/2010 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous CMOfcr said...

Pleas Answer,

Thanks for your comments. Let me ask this: you believe that police and fire should have their benefits fully paid, but should pay the employee contribution to PERS.

As a full-time police employee, I receive $631 per month towards my benefits. Now, my family coverage, for medical, dental, vision etc is about $1,700 per month. That's for an HMO! I pay about $1,100 per month (out of pocket) for my benefits.

If my salary were to stay the same, and the city were to pick up all of my medical, dental, vision etc. then I could take that $1,100 I take out of my pocket to cover my employee contribution to PERS.

In reality, I know that the city will never cover my benefits 100% (or even most of it), and I am ok with that. I feel fortunate to get what I do, so I don't have to cover all $1,700 out of pocket.

Now, by contrast, city council members also get to purchase benefits through the city for their family (an amazing perk for a part-time "employee"). City council members get $1,594 per month for their benefits.

A couple of things to keep in mind: the city requires me to carry medical benefits for me 9not my family). I can not purchase them independently. I checked. The same Blue Cross plan I have through CalPERS is much cheaper if I were to buy it outside of the city plan. However, I am not allowed to.

Up until my wife was laid off, we purchased our benefits through her employer, because it was so cheap. I was allowed to waive the city plan as long as I could show I had coverage from my wife's plan. Amazingly, the city charged me to waive my benefits from them.

10/05/2010 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

I cannot say anything about future concessions because I am not a minder reader as I assume you are not either. Of course we would all know about future concessions had the city negotiated in good faith with the Police Association in June when this all started and before the furloughs expired. Instead, they have chosen not to, and the fault lies squarely with the city council for the lack of cost savings.

10/05/2010 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

To the last comment with regards to police Overtime (OT). Sounds to me like you have never ever worked a day in Law Enforcement and DONT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.
Let's see when your children are murdered you want the Police to stop after their 10 hour shift and go home? Yeah right! You would want them working until the killer is captured THAT MEANS OT...Didnt that just happen at the apartments at Adams/Harbor where two people were slaugtered and cut to pieces..Pretty close to home huh?

10/05/2010 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Please answer the question said...

CMOfcr,

You're welcome. And thank you for bringing up City Council health benefits. I think $1500/mo health care benefits for part-time elected council members is outrageous. Those benefits should be cut immediately. What next? City cars? A housing subsidy?Council members should be paid their salary, the job can be time-consuming, but it is not a full-time job and should not have health care benefits! It makes no sense whatsoever.

Regarding the way the MOU deals with health care, has the City looked into a better health plan? With over 600 employees, the City should be able to provide a comprehensive plan like most private employers do and still achieve savings, and which includes family members. Do you know why the MOU is structured the way it is?

Jim - I can't speak to the prior negotiations. I have no idea waht was on the table. You may be right.

Frank, please go back and read the comment again. I am not talking about duty-related OT.

10/05/2010 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous OCLonghair said...

Kudos Geoff, this blog is moving up to your top 10 in comments; touchy issue.

I do however, wish some would not write short stories to attempt to make a point.

The term "Reality" seems to be tossed around a lot in these comments. How about "Truth"?

Large salaries + burden (for those who have never owned a business, that's the cost of benefits added to wages) bringing a number of “Safety Workers” over the $200K line.

In 2000, the per capita salary was $23K annual; the average salary was $43K per year. Even if these numbers increased by 30% over the past 10 years, the average “Safety Worker” makes 3 times the amount the average Costa Mesa taxpayer’s makes (not including burden).

I don’t feel too bad if these workers have to give up $1,000.00 a month of my tax dollars to help maintain a stable budget. We don’t need 25 city employees per 100 citizens in Costa Mesa.

Sorry

10/05/2010 06:06:00 PM  
Anonymous CMOfcr said...

I truly believe that Costa Mesa is a great place to work and live. I have been very happy here. I think we as officers have always had the overwhelming support of the community.

As previously stated, we are not the highest paid officers in the county, nor are we the lowest. Being median is fine. I think most of my colleagues feel the same way. Again, we have never negotiated to be anywhere but median. That said, we have to do something to attract qualified, viable candidates to the department. We want officers with the right attitude, that will fit into our organizational culture. We want to keep that good working relationship with the citizens.

So my open question is this: If we as a work group (CMPD) cut pay, have employees pay an employee contribution to PERS, or any other "give back" concessions that a Righeimer council may ask for, how do we remedy that when the economy is up again?

How do we again make this a department that attracts the right people? Recruiting today's officer is a challenge. Most have college degrees these days. We are trying to attract professional minded candidates. Many are far more savvy than I was when I got into this job. They are comparing pay, benefit and retirement packages.

Righeimer and others who subscribe to his rhetoric say this is not about public safety, it's about greed. That is patently false. When we are down officers and can't attract the right people, it will certainly have an effect.

If it was about greed, we would have negotiated to be in the top tier for pay all along. we have simply never done that. Officers currently on the job came here because the compensation package was attractive over other agencies they could have chosen, and we have always been on the forefront of technology here. Sure they pay might be less than some other agencies, but when you consider the city covers the employee contribution to PERS, it seems more than equitable.

I could complain that I would rather have more money to cover my benefits plan. I won't though. I feel what i get is fair, when I consider the city is covering my contribution to PERS. See what I'm getting at?

I'm not spouting rhetoric, I'm open to a reasonable discussion of the issues. Do I believe that some type of reform is coming down? Absolutely. However, we can not cut off our noses to spite our faces. This problem was not created overnight. There is no overnight solution.

So as not to make this a one dimensional argument, there are a number of other reasons I disagree with Mr. Righeimer. Is everyone forgetting the planning commission initiative requiring all residences over 2,000 sq. feet to have a 3 car garage? There was no language in the initiative to grandfather existing homes. There was standing room only in the council chambers for that discussion.

How about his plan to ban all residents with RV's from parking them in their driveways, or where they would be visible from the street? I don't have an RV, but if I did, I would hope that I have the right to park it appropriately on my property whether it's visible from the street or not.

Apparently Mr. Righeimer is only about individual liberty and freedom when it is convenient to him.

I'm sorry, this is not Irvine. It's Costa Mesa. We can not retroactively turn it into a planned community. I like the fact that I can paint my house whatever color I want. I can plant whatever plants I want.

Will it stay that way when Righeimer gets onto council and bullies his will upon us? It's clear Mr. Bever can't think for himself. He will bend whichever way Righeimer wants him to.

I could go on and on. I guess my final point is this: My co-workers and I are not the greedy people Righeimer paints us to be. I don't just work here, I have a dog in this hunt because this is my home.

10/05/2010 06:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Pension Realist said...

From the Orange County Register today:

California’s public pension crisis is a lot worse than anyone suspected and threatens to bankrupt the state if investment rates fail, says a report released today by the California Center for Public Policy.

The report says that the state’s tax-paid pensions have made defacto millionaires out of most of California’s employees by the time they reach their late 50s. Meanwhile, public safety and other employees frequently pay less than half or none of their retirement benefits, says the report, “Reforming Public Employee Pensions and Compensation.”

“Whether the standard is salary, working conditions, benefits or especially pensions, public employees in California receive compensation far in excess of what workers in the private sector do,” says the report. “It is illiberal and unjust.”

State public employees are among the highest compensated in the United States, says the study.

The crisis was caused by inaccurate actuarial assumptions on investment returns, the number of government employees in the future and how long retirees will live, the report said.

“Both the short-term and the long-term fiscal crises at the state and local government levels require change immediately,” says the study. “The status quo is unsustainable.”

The answer is to pay public employees fair salaries, benefits and pensions, not salaries, benefits and pensions greatly in excess of those in the private sector, the report advises.

Link to the report: http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/files/2010/10/Californiacenterforpublicpolicy.pdf

10/05/2010 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Since we are talking about fiscal responsibility and accountability, I thought I should throw this into the mix:

http://righeimer.com/index.html

10/05/2010 09:58:00 PM  
Anonymous CMOfcr said...

Pension Realist:

I appreciate that you can submit quotes directly from a report. Do you have any of your own original thoughts on the matter?

Like I said above, I don't disagree that some type of reform is coming. What will that look like? I don't know.

What the report does not state, and I have not read in any measure (including B), is how redistributing the allocation of how the employer/employee disbursements to PERS will change anything.

The amount going in will remain the same, will it not? If the amount going in per employee is "X", and the employer/employee share "X" equally, it still adds up to "X". So please in your words, explain to me how that will infuse any new monies into PERS to make it more sustainable.

So I guess the question at hand should be, is your issue (and California Center for Public Policy-whoever they are)that the amount going into PERS needs to be increased across the board, or that the amount needs to be shared by the employer/employee?

I submit that if your answer is anything other than "the overall contribution to PERS needs to be increased per employee to make it sustainable", it is simply a matter of sour grapes.

Nowhere in that study, does it mention the superfunding of PERS. When economic times were great, PERS was superfunded, and allowed agencies to suspend ALL contributions. When I say ALL, I mean both the employer and employee contributions.

Now my second question is, did those agencies continue to pay those same contributions into an account for future contributions when times were bad?

I will give you the answer...Absolutely not! It was put into general funds and used for other programs. When economic times went south and PERS came around with their hand out looking to collect, no one had the money to pay. It's unconscionable.

Use this analogy: You don't have your property taxes impounded (I don't). You decide that you have the discipline to set the appropriate amount aside so you will be able to pay your taxes when they are due. However, you don't actually set those funds aside. When the property tax bill comes, you have to figure out where to take those funds from to pay it.

The crux of the problem is not who pays the contributions, it's how or even if it get's paid. Even if the employee portion of the contribution was paid by me, and taken from my check every two weeks, where is MY guarantee that it will be set aside appropriately to be given to PERS?

The torches and pitch fork crowd want to demonize the employees. We did not create this issue. Our elected officials did.

10/05/2010 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

"Please answer the question" here is your answer:

Police officers should not be immune to economic downturns. This is not realistic by any means. I believe Costa Mesa police understand this. They were not required to submit to furloughs last year, however they helped the city out financially and agreed to 5% furloughs by reopening their contract. I have posted before that the police force is down over 10%, which is higher than current unemployment averages in the nation, in California, and in Orange County. In current negotiations I have a feeling the officers are not requesting raises (in light of the economy) , but are in fact negotiating to make financial cuts or other concessions to help the city in fixing the budget mess created not by them, but by the current city council.
Now please answer my question. When the economy picks up again, is it not fair based on this same principle that the police officers should prosper with the economy and receive bonuses or some other form of compensation as a result, or do they get left out?
Here is what I would propose as a city council member: Because all benefits come as a give and take, I would ask employees to pay for their some portion of the pension in light of this recession, and because it makes sense as the right thing to do. Now, during times of economic surpluses when PERS is super-funded, and the city does not have to pay its portion into the fund as a result, that money should be placed into a separate account and saved for the next economic downturn- not spent willy nilly like it was by the current council. This makes sense- save when times are good, so you can survive when times are bad. Also, Costa Mesa Police officers currently do not have a medical benefit plan that covers all premium expenses (even for one individual, this does not include spouse or children), unlike the city council who are actually getting a medical benefits raise in a few months. Police officers with a wife and only one child pay a exorbitant amount for medical coverage in Costa Mesa. This does not seem fair or equitable in any way when it has been proven that police officers suffer many physical problems from their job and quality medical care is a concern. Police officers should have access to the same medical benefits available to city council members because it is the right thing to do.

10/06/2010 02:00:00 AM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

I suggest that the medical benies for City Council members be downsized according to the downturn in our PERS monies. To have full medical insurance funding for a part-time job is crazy!

I also suggest that PD and FD medical benies be increased to include their families, with a $350flat monthly contribution per employee and each family member.

I also heartily support a 3% at 55 for all PD and FD.

10/06/2010 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Flo Martin said...

Jim,
Your insulting attitude is so unbecoming of a public figure. Lighten up, dude! You're heading for a heart attack or stroke.

10/06/2010 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Flo, for claiming to be so educated like you have, you seem to have lost your common sense. There is no point in arguing a point with you any further because you are unable or unwilling to even consider both sides of an argument. Instead, you play the poor old grandma card when you lack a rebuttal.

10/06/2010 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous BrazilianCM said...

You could double the police budget tomorrow... and the only result would be more speeding tickets on Harbor Blvd -Righeimer


Because we don't have a gang problem or any other crime related problems in Costa Mesa right!! WOW!

I just found a new website which really shows Rig's true colors, everyone ought to check it out... GET THE FACTS ABOUT THIS GUY

WWW.RIGHEIMER.COM

10/06/2010 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger ShaSha said...

So Flo you think that you should be compensated for having a very dangerous job. You might get hit by an eraser. But is it really life threatening?

10/27/2010 09:23:00 AM  

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