Applause for Mayor Sanders

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I have been a harsh critic of Mayor Sanders at times. But I need to give credit where it is due; he worked with purveyors of competing reform plans to come up with a single ballot measure. This increases the odds that a measure will pass, because there will be a unified reform effort. Yesterday’s U-T has the news:

The new measure, to be announced Tuesday, combines elements from a proposal two weeks ago by Jerry Sanders and Councilman Kevin Faulconer with ideas from Councilman Carl DeMaio.

Under the measure, if approved by voters, new police hires would be the only ones to receive the guaranteed payouts of a traditional pension while other new hires would contribute to a 401(k)-style plan and take on the risk of money invested.

Pensions for current workers would remain unchanged, although the measure proposes limits on pay that prevent future benefits from growing as quickly as they do now.

Predictably, the forces of leftism are gathering together to defeat any meaningful reform. The Voice of San Diego ran an article implying that a pay freeze in the plan is illegal. (My response? See you in court.) They also claim that there will be no short term savings. (I agree, but that’s not the point, you have to get started.) The city’s public employee unions commented negatively as well:

Frank De Clercq, head of the city firefighters union, said the change would have long-term consequences for public safety as the city would struggle in future years to recruit and retain firefighters. He also questioned the wisdom of devaluing any worker who puts his or her life on the line.

“I don’t know how anyone, morally and ethically, would not consider the risk that firefighters take being absolutely similar to what police officers and lifeguards take,” De Clercq said. “We risk our lives on a daily basis. I’m disappointed to say the very least that they’ve chosen to go down this path.”

Actually, I read an article in Reason that being a police officer has been getting safer for 35 years, so I don’t know why they aren’t also included in the reform. I believe this has a great chance of passing, but expect every dirty trick and court fights to keep it off the ballot. This effort is worthy of the support of the San Diego Tea Party.

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Cross-posted to The Liberator Today.

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Comments 6

  1. Funny how someone complaining about “forces of the left” would have such disregard for property. Please remove our photograph. You’re welcome to inquire about licensing it.

  2. We have removed the photo and extend our apologies to Voice of San Diego. We will remind all our bloggers that it is not enough to provide credit for photos; they must first seek permission.

  3. THE SD FD union president says (above)

    “I don’t know how anyone, morally and ethically, would not consider the risk that firefighters take being absolutely similar to what police officers and lifeguards take,” Frank De Clercq said

    Frank, it’s not about paying public safety workers for their RISK. It is about supply and demand — an alien (indeed despised) concept for labor unions. And for too many politicians.

    Because so many qualified people want to be firefighters, we don’t need to offer as lucrative a compensation package as we do to police, where it’s more difficult to hire and retain quality officers. Remember, 72% of America’s firefighters are VOLUNTEERS.

    No, I’m not saying we don’t need to pay for full-time urban firefighters — we just don’t have to pay so much!

    I spoke last month with Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall concerning this city’s pension reforms, which have been quite dramatic. For new hires, they now figure the pension based on TWO PERCENT per year, vs. 3% that is the “standard” today in CA.

    I asked him how that affected their ff hiring. He indicated that they still have about 100 qualified applicants for every opening. That’s impressive, considering that they won’t consider a ff applicant unless they have their EMT1 certificate AND they have successfully completed a quality fire fighting academy course of study and training.

    As I recall, he said that “if you finished lower than second or third in your academy class, you might as well not even apply for a Carlsbad ff position.”

  4. Both Fire and Police have argued that outward migration would decimate their staffs, presumably because employees would seek positions with the County or other nearby cities. And those entities would of course be offering better compensation and benefit packages. Well, first of all the competing jurisdictions have limited capacity to accept a significant number of new employees at any level. Second, some have already determined that their benefit packages are to rich, and are scaling back. Third, those that haven’t cut benefits will be forced to in order to manage their budgets.

    Demographically, what is happening is that senior staff is retiring in greater numbers every time a benefit cut is effective. I submit that is actually a good thing. Older firefighters and police are not as effective as those who replace them. They cost more in terms of absenteeism and health care. And limiting promotion within the ranks (by abnormally extending the tenure of some employees) creates a situation where the best and brightest must look elsewhere for advancement, as well as increasing morale problems.

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