With no fiscal oversight, small CA state security guards outfit rapes taxpayers — $124K average salary

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 27 Comments

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Here’s one of those backwater CA state public employee honeypots that for years has operated without meaningful fiscal oversight. Amazing story.

Among other things, these “police” got big overtime checks for guarding a closed facility. A quarter of these guards DOUBLE their salary with overtime.  Their average annual pay (with overtime) is $124,000.

These are SECURITY GUARDS. And remember, they get pensions equal to 90% of highest pay as early as age 50 for 30 years’ “work.” If true to the “code,” many if not most go out on “disability,” avoiding 60%-80% of income taxes on their pensions.

Tell me again how the state has “done all it can” to control costs — that only a tax increase will solve our problems. Use this example in any such discussion.

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http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/overtime-pay-soars-state-run-police-force-16067

Overtime pay soars for state-run police force

May 18, 2012 | Ryan Gabrielson and Agustin Armendariz

Reneh Agha/Porterville RecorderPorterville Developmental Center Lt. Scott Gardner (left) and Cmdr. Jeff Bradley make their way to Tulare County Superior Court in April 2010. The two were indicted for embezzling about $121,000, but the charges were later dropped.

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An unusually high number of police officers at the state’s board-and-care facilities for the developmentally disabled have doubled their salaries with overtime, enabling some to earn more than $150,000 a year, a California Watch investigation has found.

The state-run police force, called the Office of Protective Services, last year paid about $2 million in overtime to 80 of its officers. The officers patrol five facilities that house about 1,800 patients with intellectual disabilities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Tulare and Sonoma counties.

The small police force is one of the most proficient in the state at accumulating overtime – the percentage of officers boosting their salaries far exceeds the proportion at other agencies.

In total, the police department’s payroll has increased 50 percent through overtime in the past four years. For several of the officers, their overtime payouts would have required them to work 70 to 100 hours a week the entire year to earn the extra cash.

Twenty-two officers, about one-fourth of the entire police force, have claimed enough overtime to double their salaries – a rare occurrence at other police agencies, both big and small. The average salary for the 22 officers is about $124,000 a year.

At one point, the Office of Protective Services paid its officers overtime for patrolling a nearly empty facility. Patrol officers and detectives at the Agnews Developmental Center in San Jose claimed hundreds of hours of overtime – months after the institution closed in March 2009, finance reports show.

. . .

Go to the link for the full infuriating story:

http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/overtime-pay-soars-state-run-police-force-16067

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Comments 27

  1. Ah yes – more great stories from the army of “public safety.” Serving and protecting, indeed.

    While this story does not specifically involve the San Diego police department…it’s yet another terrific reminder to look at which candidates for mayor have cozied up with the public employee labor unions in town for endorsements and campaign assistance.

    In the case of the SD police, that would be Mr. Fletcher. Buyer beware.

  2. I carried the badge for almost 30 years and never even heard of an OPS. I know for a facr that years back when we had the County Honor Camps that we got Paid for sleeping. But what would Rider have us do. While fighting willd fires we had direct supervision of State Prison Inmates. We helicopter in and fight fires day and night.

    We were called out of bed and pay started at that time. We were mandated by stand by status. Often 3 hours later we were in Nomacs and on a chopper. We were Probation Officers, working with CDF, Some had Corvettes, Some spent the summer on heat, smoke and 4000 calory meals of steak and spud. Heat,flies and vomit cut down on the caloric intake.

    Rider what is your gig? Jealous. Hope your never in a situation of dire situation. I wont ever pull your cadaver out of harms way. You cant afford me. What did you do in the military.

  3. Tom,

    Is your world really that upside down that you believe an endorsement by police officers (yes I know they are represented by a union) is a bad thing?

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    Author

    My my, Mike Earl. Did I hit a nerve or two? You’re just babbling on and on. So MANY nonsensical, incoherent remarks. Such hate! And me such a loving guy.

    I love you for doing such fine work, but I could love you just as much for half the pay and a third the pension. Indeed, in a number of states, honor camps and minimum security prisons are run by private companies. I doubt the staff gets paid a third what you did, and they get a pension MAYBE one-fifth as big. But they got the job done.

    You got your pay whether you did your job or not. All you had to do was show up and avoid getting caught committing criminal acts. Your union provided protection against the consequences of any poor performance on your part.

    You MAY have done a great job — you may have done a poor job — but you had the same job security and got the same government pay. I’m SO impressed!

    Yet overpaid as you were, you threaten to NOT do your job with my “cadavar” because you don’t like me. Rest assured, if you DID carry out your silly threat, your job would remain secure. Ain’t govt work grand?

    Now, that being said, what the heck does your supposedly arduous job have do do with the security guards described in the article? Again, did I hit a nerve?

    Based on your grammar and disjointed thoughts, it’s likely you barely made it through high school. If you went to college, demand a refund. Count your blessings that a functional illiterate such as yourself can find such lucrative employment and fabulous retirement doing what is at best a semi-skilled job.

  5. Alger:

    “Upside down” compared to what? Compared to a mentality of government worship where an ever-increasing portion of taxpayer wallets are coerced for “services that we demand”? Certainly not at the current government union-monopoly wage and benefit rate!

    And it’s actually nice that the government unions have endorsed their candidates. It tells voters and taxpayers who they prefer to have across from them at the negotiating table to maximize the probability that the retirement gravy train continues – at our expense.

  6. Tom,

    I wish you were with me in D.C. this week. You could have witnessed the outpouring of affection, respect and sorrow for all the police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. You could have visited the large park which was converted into a memorial and saw the drawing done by an elementary school girl of her and her dad captioned I wish I could play with my Daddy. She couldn’t of course because he had been killed the previous year.

    I wish you could have witnessed all that and then I wish I had the opportunity to watch you tell surviving family members that these officers were overpaid and didn’t deserve a pension.

    By the way Tom, what did you do today to make someone’s life better?

  7. Post
    Author

    Alger, let’s hold a similar memorial event for the commercial fishermen who died in Alaska last year — and died at a far higher rate than police officers. Or for common construction laborers — who died on the job at a higher rate. Or farmers. Or ranchers. Or truck drivers. Or cabbies. Or timber cutters. Or miners. Or other such risky occupations which daily risk death that occurs more often for them than for police and firefighters. Private sector working Joes who lack anything approaching the police survivor benefits for dependents.

    Yes, police work is more mortally dangerous than office work — by a LOT. But MANY outside blue collar jobs are more dangerous than office work.

    Alger, I wish YOU could witness all the neglected people whose husbands, fathers and mothers died doing more risky jobs than our public safety workers — the working dead who were not idolized and idealized for their sacrifice. Perhaps you have, but thought little of it.

  8. Post
    Author

    Alger, the sort of survivor financial tragedy you refer to can be avoided by buying life and disability insurance for the workers — including police and firefighters. There is NO NEED to provide a pension for the survivors if you have a million dollar insurance policy — or more!

    How much does that cost a year? A pittance — especially when purchased on a group policy basis. Here’s a simple example of an individual policy — a rather expensive level term policy for a 40 year old. Double the premium to $700 a year for a million dollar policy. Cut the rate for the younger average age, and for group rates.

    “A healthy 40-year-old man who buys a 20-year level term policy, which has a fixed annual premium, might pay $350 a year to secure a $500,000 death benefit.”
    http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/insurance_life.moneymag/index9.htm

    That’s what adults do in the private sector — acquire sufficient insurance to protect their loved ones. This benefit can indeed be provided by an employer, including a government employer (I have no problem with that — I think it’s a good retention factor to include as a perk).

    I can’t imagine such a benefit would not be included for our public safety employees.

  9. Richard,

    I am shocked that you missed the point, again. Police officers are killed protecting the public. They are killed because there are people out there who want to do them harm simply because they are protecting the public. This is not even remotely true of any of the other jobs you mentioned.

    As for death benefits, again not exactly the point. The point is that those fortunate enough to live to retirement have earned their pension and should be allowed to enjoy their retirement without having to endure the jealous rants of a wanna be politician.

  10. Alger:

    The problem I find with your argument is in your last statement, that those who live to retirement “have earned their pension and should be allowed to enjoy their retirement…”

    I would suggest that they should not be allowed to retire at the ripe old age of 50. On a basic level, society cannot sustainably continue with people living a bit less than half of their life not contributing anything, and only consuming. But I digress.

    There is an infallible way to tell if public safety workers deserve/need/should have wage and retirement packages such as those now offered. If taxpayers (the true employer) reduce the wage and benefits, could we still find capable people willing to do the job? The answer is absolutely yes. Does any private sector company pay people more than their value added, or more than they absolutely have to? No, because if they do, they are immediately rendered uncompetitive and go out of business.

    But government union monopolies do not have to answer to the wonderfully efficient free-market. Instead, they have instituted a system whereby they pool a portion of their wages, buy political power, and end up “negotiating” their own wages and benefits with those in their pockets. This process has continued over time – but the day of reckoning is beginning to arrive, because the taxpayer well has been drained.

  11. Tom,

    It is your final two paragraphs that are the digression, not the first two.

    Let’s take the last part first: There will always be someone willing to do any job (even yours) for less. But if we go down that road of ever-reduced wages, will we not put ourselves in a deflationary cycle and will we not move even more toward a society of a few super-rich and many working (or not since we probably can do with a few less on every job) poor like a typical third world country?

    As for your opening, you actually got it right (blind squirrel theory). As people live longer we need to MODIFY our retirement formulas and people need to work longer before receiving a pension. Where we agree is that no able-bodied person should be collecting a pension at age 50.

  12. Or Alger…just replace pensions with 401(k)s.

    You do think highly enough of people to trust they will make good decisions when it comes to their savings right?

    I mean you don’t think they should be forced into a pension system do you? Espeically if it is run by one of the many, many corrupt unions. Do you?

  13. Michael,

    Quite the contrary. I think there should be more defined benefit pensions. I am sure you would agree unless you believe all those retirees and near retirees that lost a bulk of their 401K’s in the last crash just failed to make “good decisions.”

  14. Post
    Author

    Alger, police do a job. They get paid. Their work benefits the public.

    The same is true for the fisherman, the logger, the miner and the others. If they were not benefiting the public, they wouldn’t have jobs.

    Police go into law enforcement for many reasons. Just like everyone else. They are not “public servants.” They are working Joes committed to doing the job well (we hope) in exchange for compensation.

    They LIKE being cops, and they look forward to a shootout that more often than not doesn’t occur — just like firefighters hate working at a station with few fires.

    Your “point” was how tragic it was to see the dependents mourning their lost police relatives. All very real, but no less tragic than those morning the loss of their relatives in more dangerous jobs than cops face.

    If you want to see America’s REAL heroes, go talk to VOLUNTEER firefighters — almost 75% of America’s ff’s are volunteers. They do it for free — training hard and risking their lives to help defend their community. Did I mention VOLUNTEER?

    The point is, we don’t need to pay “above market benefits” to get people to do these jobs — especially firefighters.

    BTW, because of the easy transferrability of public employees between government departments, economic necessity requires that we pay DB pensions to cops. Such is life. I really don’t have a problem with that.

  15. Post
    Author

    Alger, you said to Tom “I wish you could have witnessed all that and then I wish I had the opportunity to watch you tell surviving family members that these officers were overpaid and didn’t deserve a pension.”

    Clearly you WERE justifying the pension by pointing to the survivors. I pointed out that that’s a false issue — that life insurance can cover that concern (as it does [or should] for private sector employees) — unrelated to a pension.

    Moreover, you present the standard union fallacy that “no DB pension = no pension at all.” Of course, almost everyone seeking pension reform agrees that we should CHANGE most govt pensions from DB plans to DC (401k-type) plans — pensions not guaranteed by the taxpayers.

    Just about EVERY government DB plan results in underfunding, combined with bogus earnings projections — with taxpayers paying for 100% of the shortfall. We’ve had enough.of this chicanery.

  16. Post
    Author

    Alger, you state that “those fortunate enough to live to retirement have earned their pension and should be allowed to enjoy their retirement . . .”

    Cute. You make police work sound like battlefield work — the odds are not good that a cop will make it to retirement. Of course, as I’m pointed out, the risk, while real, ain’t all that great compared to many other outside jobs. And it doesn’t even APPROACH the risk faced by ground troops in our military.

    Moreover, no one is talking about taking away the DB pensions payouts that government workers have earned to date. Another false issue — standard labor union playbook stuff. Such mantras don’t fly well here — we’ve all seen that playbook.

    The question is, do we need to pay such pensions for FUTURE govt workers — and for future work? In most cases, no.

  17. Post
    Author

    Alger, all this raises a question for me. Why do you still remain anonymous? I know who you are, but can’t reveal it on this blog. So be it. I WILL honor that requirement.

    But I think I CAN say that you are not in a position that revealing your identity would in any way adversely affect you, or your job security. There is NO reason for you to hide behind “Alger,” aside from hiding your economic self-interest in some causes that come up here.

    Man up, “Alger.” Tell the readers who you are, so they can better judge the objectivity and bias of your writings. I can’t do it for you — you gotta do the right thing yourself.

    As you point out, I’m a “wanna be politician” (THAT’s going well!!). I’m up front with my identity, and my bias is clear. I’m baffled as to why you hide yours.

  18. Richard,

    Short answers to your long rants. I obviously struck a nerve.

    We should have more, not less, defined benefit pensions. Ask anyone who lost half of their life savings in the most recent stock market crash how they are going to fund their retirement. For those who were already retired or nearing retirement, the economic consequences were especially catastrophic.

    Why are many defined benefit plans underfunded? Two reasons and investment returns is not one of them. Many of these plans were intentionally under-contributed either because of bad tax laws (since corrected) or because the plan sponsor wanted to use the money for something else (this should be prosecuted as grand theft). Secondly, because many plans made benefit increases retroactive – a policy that should be outlawed.

    Police work, its inherent dangers and its benefit to society are fundamentally different from the other jobs you cited. I am sure you know this, but you can’t help but be argumentative on every point.

    As to staying anonymous, I am shocked that you of all people would advocate against individual choice. All I am doing is playing by the rules laid out by the owner of this business. If you feel the need to attack me personally rather than debate the issues, that is not my problem. And on that topic, I apologize for the “wanna be politician” line. I don’t need to stoop to the level of name calling. I guess it was actually you who struck one of my nerves.

  19. Alger:

    I agree, DB plans have retroactive benefit increases and plan sponsor underfunding to blame. They also have another chronic problem: benefits that are unsustainably high (inclusive of absurdly low retirement ages, a point you’ve already conceded). An additional factor that seemingly never enters the pension debate is the allocation and cost of risk. A DB plan is risk-free for the recipient, and the benefit level should be commensurate. There is no free lunch or “beating the market”.

    As for your comment regarding a downward spiral of wages – I don’t believe you have a fundamental grasp on how free markets function, or how businesses make hiring decisions. If my employer can replace me with someone of equal qualifications for a lower cost, you bet they will! I wouldn’t blame them either – they exist to make profit, not to dish out social welfare. It’s my responsibility to make sure that my skill set is in demand, and if it isn’t, it’s on me to improve it. This responsibility is mine alone, not yours, and the government’s (meaning, not other taxpayers’).

    There is nothing wrong with this – it’s a beautifully simple system, and it works if you let it.

  20. Tom,

    Please don’t tell me that you believe in free and completely unregulated capitalism. I know you are smarter than that. In reality, what we disagree is where to draw the line that marks too much regulation. If we stopped talking in absolutes for a second, that would be a good discussion to have. For example, instead of getting rid of DB’s, how about we discuss the appropriate benefit level, retirement age, employee/employer contribution split and shared risk.

  21. Alger,
    What you are saying is misleading. On purpose.
    You bring up the fact that market took a major dip, but fail to mention it is hardly off it’s all time high. You fail to mention the market has doubled since it bottomed out in 2009. Has anyone’s pension doubled in that same time? You fail to mention that between 1990 and 2010 despite numerous major market corrections the Dow Jones Industrial Average still produced a 600% return.
    You know that if an investor wants security, the stock market is NOT the only investment in a 401k. Invest in bonds. CDs. Treasuries. A money market fund. Hire an unbiased consultant to help you reach your goals. And when you leave a company…take your retirement with you. Or would you rather workers become beholden and controlled by…say…a union? Or corporation? Either of which may fail and take you with it.
    Again, I don’t know why you would bet against individuals and their ability to make decisions for their own future and against the American economy. On second thought…maybe it’s pretty clear why.

  22. Michael,

    You just made the point for DB’s better than I ever could. A DB plan has a virtually unlimited investment time line and, as you pointed out, over any extended period of time, the stock market growth has exceeded that which is necessary to fund a retirement.

    The problem is that the market does not always outperform in the short term and that is where individuals at or near retirement live. Your advice to simply move assets to safer investments was certainly valid when the average person only lived a few years past retirement, but those investments are insufficient when people are regularly living into their 90’s.

    This isn’t about individual choice vs. group control. This is about investment horizons and making sure that short-term downturns do not devastate retirees.

    And by the way, it has been four years since the stock market bottomed out and the Dow Jones is still more than 10% off of it’s high. Factor in the fact that a retiree would have been anticipating a gain during that period and would also have been withdrawing money to live on during that time, and hopefully you can see the problem.

    DB’s need some modifications; people live healthier and can work longer. People are living longer and will need to put more away for retirement. We need laws to prevent intentional underfunding and outlaw unfunded retroactive benefit increases. What we don’t need is the elimination of defined benefit pensions. It would be a mistake that we will pay dearly for over the next 30-50 years and beyond.

  23. Alger, that is a totally dishonest argument. We both know that. it’s not new for you, but I am not going to spend my time typing out the truth.

    It really doesn’t surprise me that you are so fond of Fletcher.

  24. Michael,

    Sorry you feel that way, but everything I have written is factually accurate. The only objective argument against DB’s is the risk factor and who should entail the risk of less than adequate returns or other incorrect actuarial assumptions. There are ways to mitigate those factors, but obviously you would be happier just eliminating DB’s and letting everyone fend for themselves. That is a legitimate philosophy; I just happen to think that our society has evolved beyond the every man for himself days and if we have gone too far in that direction, we can move the pendulum back without completely snapping it off.

  25. Alger, you say “there are ways to mitigate those factors” — referring to the incorrect actuarial assumptions, or inadequate returns.

    Not on this planet! DB plans around the WORLD are in trouble. It’s inherent in the nature of the plan — the ability of politicians to promise benefits today that don’t have to be funded until tomorrow.

    There are THOUSANDS of government pension plans, and they are ALL Ponzi schemes. The only difference is the DEGREE of the shortfall. This is “settled science.”

    The UNIVERSAL failing of DB plans proves that keeping DB plans in place is like keeping a little cancer (under control, of course). Today’s safeguards disappear under relentless labor union pressure (and the unions election allies to office).

    Present your “safeguards,” Alger I love a good laugh.

  26. Alger, I’m not “attacking you personally.” I’m pointing out that there is no reason for you to remain anonymous, except to hide your self interest in your postings. People need to know who you are, so they can weigh the MOTIVATION behind your frequent postings. Using your real name (and position) is a VOLUNTARY decision you can make without the permission of the website manager.

    While endlessly posting for labor union benefits, you fail to tell us who you are. I guess that does indeed tell us a lot, doesn’t it?

  27. Richard,

    I will tell you this. I do not currently, nor have I ever worked in the public sector. Neither do I work for nor am I represented by a union.

    As for safeguards, how about this one simple fix:

    Pass a law that rescinds any wage increase during a year where the pension plan is not funded to a certain level (80% seems standard, but I am even ok with making it 100% for this purpose). Add to this a clause that limits the plan’s sponsor’s contribution to no more than it was the previous year plus CPI.

    I think you are smart enough to see that this simple fix makes any underfunding self correcting. It also prevents the Unions from playing games with either the wage rates or the pension benefits.

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