Setting CMPD Pay Numbers Straight
As you know, at the last Costa Mesa City Council meeting Mayor Jovial Jim Righeimer, during one of his stream of consciousness mini-rants, told us that the Costa Mesa Police Department is the "highest paid" - a statement that rocked those of us who actually follow this stuff. Why? Because it's not true, and it represents his willingness to disregard facts and present fabrications from his lofty perch on the "big chair" that are politically self-serving.
MIDDLE OF THE PACK?
In my observations following Jovial Jim's fabrication I said that the CMPD is paid near the middle of the pack in Orange County. That was a gut feeling based on information from the not-too-distant past. When you've got a gut the size of mine you pay attention!
RECENT SURVEY SHEDS LIGHT
In response to this issue I was sent the results of a very recent - January, 2013 - salary survey from a very credible organization that covers three police positions - Police Officer, Police Sergeant and Police Lieutenant - for 21 local cities. It provides data like number of staff members used in the survey; effective date of the salary levels; high and low salary numbers and additional "compensation" - amounts applied for Health, Dental, Vision and other health-related dollars, like the CMPD Cafe plan. It totals those up into a column titled "Total Comp", which represents the total monthly pay. It does NOT reflect any pension numbers. It seems unlikely that the recent retirements of senior officers, nor the recent promotions, were taken into account. Nor was the Orange County Sheriff's Department included in this survey.
USING "TOTAL COMP"...
Since our elected "leaders" have made such a big deal about total compensation on these issues in the past, let me give you a taste of the results.
Total Comp for the cities listed averages $8,271. Costa Mesa's number is $8,563. That places them 8th of 21 cities, slightly above the middle. Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Orange and Fullerton were ranked ahead of Costa Mesa.
Total Comp for cities listed was $10,306. Costa Mesa's number is $10,301. That places them 11th - smack dab in the middle of the pack. The ten cities ranked higher are Tustin, Orange, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Fountain Valley, Cypress and Anaheim.
Total Comp for this group is $12,397. Only 18 cities reported data. Costa Mesa's number is $12,469. That puts them in 12th place - well below the middle. The eleven cities ranked higher are Brea, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Orange and Santa Ana.
Another important factor to consider is that members of the CMPD have not received a raise since 8/31/2008. Sixteen of the 21 cities reporting data have had increases since that date. The results show that our brave men and women of the CMPD are far from the "highest paid".
So, what do we do with this information? Well, for one, we can use it to validate our mayor's penchant to play fast and loose with facts to serve his political purposes. What else is he making up when he pontificates from the dais? If he doesn't have the information he should just zip his lips until he does. It's just one more example of the adversarial relationship he has cultivated with the CMPD and it certainly doesn't serve the community well.
I GET IT!
Before retiring I made a pretty darn good living recruiting folks, both as an employee of local companies and, for more than two decades, as a recruiting consultant. While pay is only part of the equation, I understand how difficult it is to recruit excellent employees when your compensation package is not competitive. Considering the atmosphere between Righeimer and the Costa Mesa Police Officers Association, I see nothing that leads me to believe the contract negotiations next year will be anything but rancorous.
WILLING TO SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY?
It seems to me that Righeimer and his associates are willing to settle for mediocrity by creating a hostile work environment and hiring hardball negotiators to beat the city employees into submission. Personally, I'm not willing to settle for mediocrity. I feel we deserve to have a compensation plan that is, at least, competitive. I don't think we need to pay the highest salaries, but we sure shouldn't be paying the least. We should be paying somewhere in the top 25% of all Orange County cities.
WAITING AND WATCHING
So, we watch and wait to see what the next fabricated "fact" comes out of Righeimer's mouth...