CMOfcr 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: Jim Righeimer