How Public Officials Can Reduce the Burden of Unionized Firefighters

What started in Stanton, California as an anomaly is spreading quickly across North Orange County – the push to create local sales taxes in order to pay off the rising pay and benefits of public employees.

Stanton voters passed a one-percent sales tax in 2014, giving residents in one of OC’s poorest cities the county’s highest sales tax. But in the last several days, the enthusiasm for this most regressive of taxes has spread to Westminster, Fountain Valley and La Palma, and always for the same reason: public employee compensation.

Stanton councilmember David Shawver is elated, perhaps because he’s no longer alone. “The 2014 sales-tax increase saved the city of Stanton’s life,” Shawver told the Orange County Register last week. “The tax will be a really big thing for Westminster. They will see a regeneration of their community.”

In those cities, as in Stanton, the same dire warnings are broadcast from City Hall: The end is near. We’ve cut every other city service imaginable, and if you don’t pay more in sales taxes now, you’ll lose vital public-safety services – the police and firefighters who represent the thin line between civilization and Darwinian struggle.

When asked about this problem, many city officials respond that for all their apparent authority, they’re really impotent. They’re trapped by the rising pay and benefits of government workers, especially those who are unionized, and especially those in unions of police and firefighters.

A Stanton official told me there’s no way to change the cost of sheriff’s deputies and firefighters. The county sets the rate – averaging around $236,000 per year for firefighters and $189,000 for deputies. Stanton just pays.

“There’s absolutely nothing we can do about that,” the official said.

That’s absolutely wrong. The City of Stanton and its neighbors have an amazing opportunity in the midst of their crisis. And the U.S. military provides part of the answer.

U.S. Navy Firefighters in action
(Source: U.S. Navy)

For years, the U.S. has run on the assumption that a relatively small number of career professionals can mass-produce the world’s most powerful soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. In 16 weeks or less, for example, the Army outfits, trains and deploys men and women around the world. It arms them with life-saving and death-dealing equipment and techniques. It counts on them to carry out their missions in the most dangerous conditions imaginable. Bravery, loyalty and resilience are standard.

In exchange for this exceptional demand, we nevertheless pay our service people very little – about $1500 per month. After four years, most enlistees are discharged and pursue other careers. The military expects that only a few will stay on to rise through the ranks of officers and noncommissioned officers who oversee the recruitment, training, support and management of new trainees. Their leadership is invaluable, but the military may at its discretion decide to reduce benefits – even retroactively – or terminate employment.

The Department of Defense isn’t perfect. The scandal over veterans’ health care, the bloat, the crony-capitalist contracts and the politicians’ ham-fisted use of force are real. But if we can train 18-year-olds to handle lethal force and million-dollar equipment in a combat zone, we can train young people to put out fires – or, as is more likely in Orange County, to respond to medical emergencies.

We could pay these firefighters well, better than their military counterparts. And at the end of four years, we could thank them for their service and let them pursue their bliss – to sign on as firefighters in wealthier cities still wedded to the old model. Or they could move on to work or college. It would be cheaper to spend more – to pay for their health care and offer tuition support for several years, for instance – than to turn them into careerists.

Instead, for decades, we’ve chosen to hire high school graduates who win the firefighting lottery. Thousands apply for just a few openings anywhere. The reason for the long lines: The winners will work a few days per week in exchange for about $236,000 per year, early retirement and annual pensions of about 90 percent of their highest annual pay.

You’d have to be a millionaire to clock that kind of income in retirement. But our cities and counties hand it out as standard procedure.

Our elected officials can rarely see a way out.

That’s why Stanton – and Westminster, La Habra, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Placentia and hundreds of other California cities – are so deeply troubled. For decades, police and firefighters have backed (with their time and money) political candidates who deliver on the promise to sign off on higher pay and benefits. The sweetheart deals have driven countless Orange County cities toward insolvency.

Stanton can survive if it innovates. And, sure, it may seem a long-shot to expect that the city councilmembers elected to represent government employees will have the courage to represent the people instead. But there’s an old saying about necessity as the mother of invention – or as they say in bureaucratic circles, urgency functioning as the distaff progenitor of creativity.

 *   *   *

Will Swaim is the VP of Communications at the California Policy Center.

48 replies
  1. Avatar
    talltalk says:

    firefighting is for people. everyone can help fight fires. this is a great idea.

    false shortage is how they operate now, by limited those who can get into the training.

    end oligarchy, include more people.

  2. Avatar
    Marty e Mitchell says:

    Who is serving who,and not just firefighters.
    FDR was right about public unions,just as Eisenhower warned us of the military industrial complex.

  3. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    Quoting ………… “For decades, police and firefighters have backed (with their time and money) political candidates who deliver on the promise to sign off on higher pay and benefits. The sweetheart deals have driven countless Orange County cities toward insolvency.”

    And JUSTIFIABLY, taxpayers should (and eventually WILL) renege on grossly excessive, unnecessary, unjust, unfair (to taxpayers) and clearly unaffordable “promises”. Promises negotiated by Union-bought-off elected officials in exchange for Public Sector Union campaign contributions and election support.

  4. Avatar
    Will Swaim says:

    INTHEOC: I’d be honored, but I think this merely means you haven’t read much. –Will

  5. Avatar
    Burke says:

    This article is spot on. What a community ends up with after a couple decades of operating their public safety services in this manner is a large segment of the population trained in emergency services and funds for all public services.

    The current model is unsustainable from a cost standpoint and if I was a younger public safety worker I would be very concerned about my pension solvency in 20 years. Yeah, yeah, yeah the pensions are guaranteed by the taxpayer under the CA Rule but remember those good middle class taxpayers and businesses relocate to other states when the tax burden becomes too high and services get worse and worse. The final vote is always with one’s feet….. and CA can’t print money like the Feds.

  6. Avatar
    Tony Bedolla says:

    Will, I have known you a long time. You already know the comparison of public employees to military personnel is a false equivalency. Having known you I am stunned that you of all people would make such an intellectually lazy argument.

    While you only cite the direct pay to enlisted individual at the E-1 rank you fail to mention the other costs borne by the DoD in supporting our military forces.

    Amongst them being:

    1. Subsidized housing
    2. Subsidized meals
    3. Subsidized healthcare
    4. Subsidized educational opportunities
    5. A defined benefit pension for 20 years of service regardless of age.
    6. Numerous others.

    Are you saying local government should adopt the military model?

  7. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    Maybe we can do this with police, too.

    The average California Highway Patrol officer who retires after 20 years of work receives $98,000 per year, available at age 50, and paid for the life of the retiree and that retiree’s spouse.

    We could train them, work them four years, then send them back to civilian life.

  8. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    since 2009, more than 45 states have made significant changes to their retirement plans, including increasing employee contributions, reducing benefits, or both. Other states have modified their plan design, choosing to transfer more of the risk associated with providing retirement benefits from the state and its political subdivisions to its employees.

  9. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    BS and you know it. Pension formula/provision reductions (from the grossly excessive and extraordinarily expensive levels in place today) RARELY impact the FUTURE Service of CURRENT (yes CURRENT, now just NEW) workers.

    THAT is what is necessary …. and bringing those pension formulas and provisions (and benefits) ALL THE WAY down to the level typically granted reasonably similar PRIVATE Sector workers.

  10. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    A salary that appropriately reflects* the job risks and k,nowledge, experience, and skills plus a 401k Taxpayer 3%-of-pay Taxpayer “match” is all that is justifiable. Police should save ON THEIR OWN just like everyone in the Private Sector must do if they EVER want to retire.

    * reflects ……. by reference to what similar jobs in the PRIVATE Sector pay …… not by reference to what other equally over-compensated (due to the Public Sector Union’s BUYING of the favorable votes of our elected officials with campaign contributions and election support) PUBLIC Sector workers are paid.

  11. Avatar
    Will says:

    Tony! Always a pleasure, even if you’re calling me “intellectually lazy.” So, rereading my piece, I think you’ll agree that I acknowledge shortcomings in the military model; I’m not, in other words, suggesting we slavishly follow every aspect of the Department of Defense. But to answer your question, we could borrow the recruiting, hiring and retention features without, for example, requiring firefighters to learn to (I don’t know) handle an M4 rifle or fly a HMLA-773 attack helicopter. The basic model — of hiring young people for 4-year assignments without the requirement that they stay on for life? That’s lazy only in the sense that it’s so obvious I can hardly believe you’d object. Much love, Will

  12. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    You gots to think outside the box, NTHEOC.

    The suggestion isn’t serious, it’s just another way to get the really big numbers in the press.

    Por ejemplo:

    ” The average California Highway Patrol officer who retires after 20 years of work receives $98,000 per year, available at age 50, and paid for the life of the retiree and that retiree’s spouse. The median pay and benefit package for a firefighter is more than $175,000 a year.”

    Wait!!! $175,000….$236,000 ??? Wassup???

    Either case, irrespective of what CPC or Transparent California claims, if you automatically include OT, you ought to say a fireman and a half costs $236,000,

    Accurate numbers are irrelevant. BIG NUMBERS is the name of the game.

  13. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    “Police should save ON THEIR OWN just like everyone in the Private Sector…”

    “everyone” ???

    Don’t let facts get in the way of your biases, Love. There are still some prominent companies with DB pensions, and some multiplayer pensions that are still quite healthy. And prominent economists suggesting changes to ERISA and PBGC that would encourage the return of DBs for the private sector.

  14. Avatar
    Will says:

    Steven: I still can’t follow your logic, but am delighted you continue to follow me. Say what you will; just keep watching. But you misunderstand my purpose here: The fact is that my proposal is a serious one — one used, in fact, by the U.S. military for generations. But what hope has an argument backed by history got in this post-factual universe? It will never stand up to assertions like yours, backed as they are by multiple question marks, caps-on-lock and clever deployment of the word “wassup” and “gots.”

  15. Avatar
    Tony Bedolla says:

    Since we are going to keep up with that analogy. I can guarantee you the individual that flies an attack helicopter is a much higher rank than E-1.

    I point out that many expenses an individual incurs in their daily lives are provided by the employer when they are in military service.

    Which of those benefits should local government start providing for its employees in order to be more like military personnel?

  16. Avatar
    Will says:

    Fair enough, Tony. Let’s skip the highly skilled career pilot (who earns about $65k per year) and stay with the enlisted guy — since that was, of course, my point.

  17. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    Yes there are (but percentage-wise, very few) Private Sector companies who still maintain DB Plans.

    But ……. when you compare BOTH the “formulas” and “provisions” of those remaining PRIVATE Sector DB Plans to the DB Plans common in the PUBLIC Sector, the PUBLIC Sector DB Plans with:

    (a) much larger per-year-of-service “formula factors”,
    (b) MUCH younger full/unreduced retirement ages (50-55 for Police and 55-60 for non-safety workers ….. typically vs 65 in Private Sector DB Plans), and
    (c) annual COLA increases in PUBLIC but NOT Private Sector Plans

    it’s not hard to see how PUBLIC Sector DB pensions are ROUTINELY 3 to 4 times (4 to 6 times for Safety workers) greater in value upon retirement than those of Private Sector workers retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME pay, and the SAME years of service.

    There is ZERO justification for this….. zero !

    Virtually all Public Sector DB pensions are grossly excessive, unnecessary, unfair (to taxpayers) and clearly unaffordable. They ALL need to be “frozen”, and for the future service of all CURRENT (not just NEW) workers.

  18. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    ¡Muchas gracias!*

    I don’t think NTHEOC will have any trouble following the logic.

    At one time, typical opinion pieces and “press releases” from Transparent California, California Policy Center, or their various officers and spokespersons headlined with the total compensation of public employees in an area, (because “total compensation” is the only valid figure that can be used for comparison.) Then the article would mention that the average salary for private sector workers in the area was $53,000. (because “total compensation” for the private sector apparently is not valid for comparison.)

    Big numbers.

    I don’t see the private comparisons so much lately. Perhaps because CPC got called on it and they know it’s redundant anyway. The “average” reader already knows he makes less than $53,000. He typically never considers the benefits (or overtime, if any) part of his own total compensation. Not to mention the differences in “human capital”.

    Big numbers.

    Ambiguity can be our friend: “The winners will work a few days per week in exchange for about $236,000 per year, early retirement and annual pensions of about 90 percent of their highest annual pay.”  
    The winners don’t get $236,000 …”and”… early retirement and 90 percent of pay. The retirement (including “early”) is included in the $236,000. That’s why it’s such a…

    Big number.

    And overtime is included. Usually a lot of overtime. Maybe even more than “a few days a week”, you silver-tongued devil, you.

    Of course, when you referred to the “firefighting lottery” you were speaking metaphorically, and  “thousands” of applicants is hyperbole, at best. 
    1) Yes, I realize there is nepotism and favoritism, but generally speaking, most of those apocryphal thousands don’t have a prayer of becoming a firefighter. For those who are serious, here are a couple of sources:

    “Becoming a firefighter: 10 must-do things”
    Feb 1, 2010

    “The CPAT: The Events in the Fire Department Physical Ability Test”
    John Annillo

    2)  In 2011, MacDonald’s had a nationwide hiring program looking for 60,000 new employees. They had over a million applicants. You think they’re overpaid?  Maybe we could institute a military type system for fast food workers.

    Actually, my response to NTHEOC was almost entirely an excuse to highlight your claim that the average CHP officer retires with a $98,000 pension after 20 years. Print that in a legitimate paper and people actually believe it without reasonable skepticism. Reprint to other papers and websites and even if there were a retraction, few people would see it. This is how rumors get started. Or “pension myths”.
    A simple “mea culpa” would have been a good start, but it would seem you’re not troubled by exaggeration and misleading statements. Such is the life and times of a vice president of communications, eh?

    *shameless deployment of trite foreign phrases.

  19. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    More math?

    New Jersey State
    Truck Driver. Tandem axle. 2016 Salary range 12 …( $34,628.13 – $48,398.13)
    Pension = years of service (35) divided by 55 times FAS ($48,398.13) = $30,798.81, or

    $2,566.56 per month
    Private sector teamster:

    Hagerstown, Maryland (Local 992)
    $3,000 for 25-at-57.
    $3,600 for 30-and-out.
    $4,200 for 35-and-out.

    Voodoo math aside, if you are 60 years old and offered the choice of $2,600 a month, for life…or $4,200 a month, which would you choose?

    If you claim “PUBLIC Sector DB pensions are ROUTINELY 3 to 4 times ….greater in value” you should cite some empirical evidence.

    And, once again, you left out the fourth “SAME”: equivalent employees.

    Still GIGO, after all these years.

  20. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    MORE of your BS ………….

    Get off the Multi-employer Union Plans.

    Try comparing the TYPICAL PUBLIC Sector DB Plan to even the DB Plans in place in the Fortune 500. The Public Sector Plans are ALWAYS vastly more generous (and hence costly) due to much larger formula-factors and FAR more generous “provisions”.

    THAT needs to end for the future service of all CURRENT Public Sector workers.

  21. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    BS indeed.

    My grandson just got accepted by IBEW. As near as I can tell, it’s not one of those plans in trouble (yet). I cant find any empirical data on their pension plan, and my Dad raised me not to pry about another’s financial matters, but in the bay area, electrician pay and pension (with retiree healthcare) seems more generous than any public electrician.
    What do you have against tradesmen?

    As far as your ” 3 to 4 times (4 to 6 times for Safety workers) “: it is still useless twaddle. If private plans, as you claim, are virtually nonexistent, how can you “compare” them to anything? You must have been a lawyer in a previous existence.

  22. Avatar
    Tony Bedolla says:

    The question remains. How much of the military model do you want local government to embrace for its employees?

    Subsidized housing?
    Subsidized meals?
    Defined benefit pension plans?
    Nearby work areas?

    Keep in mind that junior enlisted personnel are living just above the poverty line at the pay you are recommending. There has been a recent trend for that military demographic to turn to food stamps to help make ends meet.

  23. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    We are there, Tony. I’ve heard it said that local government pay is generally higher than state pay, but not necessarily in every case. In the lower cohort of state workers, as far back as I can remember, (1975) many have been eligible for, and received various forms of public assistance. Section eight housing subsidies, food stamps, etc. I don’t know how prevalent this is. I can’t find any data. But I personally knew a few of these over the years, and for a short time, as a single father, I received childcare subsidies. I was told I probably would qualify for food stamps, also, but about that time, my first promotion with a five percent raise put me over the hump.

    But the lower paying entry level job I started out with, was a career for some. They either couldn’t or wouldn’t promote, so those with a family might remain welfare eligible their whole lives.

    We have met the enemy, and he is us.

  24. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    As stated earlier, some Private Sector single-employer CORPORATE (not Private Sector multi-employer Union …. like those applicable to the IBEW) still exist.

    If you compared those in the Fortune 500 (typically the MOST generous) to TYPICAL Public Sector DB Plans, the Public Sector DB Plans are indeed, as I stated earlier …..

    ROUTINELY 3 to 4 times (4 to 6 times for Safety workers) greater in value upon retirement than those of Private Sector workers retiring at the SAME age, with the SAME pay, and the SAME years of service.

    Yes , it’s very straight-forward “math” ……. something you chose to ignore because if conflicts with your agenda as a retired Public Sector worker.

  25. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:


    “Keep in mind that junior enlisted personnel are living just above the poverty line at the pay you are recommending. There has been a recent trend for that military demographic to turn to food stamps to help make ends meet.”

    The point is that there are some full time state workers today who, if they are a medium size family, are at poverty level and receiving state or federal aid. It’s not Walmart, but there are thousands of workers at this level, and some spend there entire careers at or near poverty level.

    But I don’t think Will Swaim was recommending military pay for his firefighters, “We could pay these firefighters well, better than their military counterparts.” But presumably less than we pay firefighters today, and with much less allotted for pensions.

    In these days of big dollar public salaries, there are still thousands who make much less.

  26. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    How many times have I told you. Take this to your fifth grade teacher. It’s what we called a word problem. If you don’t set it up properly, you will never get the correct answer.

    Even when comparing two or more private sector companies each competing in the same labor market for similar employees; if one of those companies has an employer paid DB plan and the other does not, it is expected that the company without a pension plan would pay higher cash wages to remain competitive.
    If a third employer has an even better DB plan than the first company, they can pay even lower cash wages and still have the ability to attract and retain qualified employees.

    Math can tell us that third employer has higher pensions (even  3 to 4 times better) it cannot tell us those employees are “overpaid”. Whether the company is private or public, it is still called deferred compensation.

    This ain’t rocket science, Love. And my primary agenda as a retired Public Sector worker is to get the pool cleaned before it gets to hot outside.

  27. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    I’ve addressed these arguments you again repeat many times ………

    Where I live (and in all of the nearby towns) the lowly Police patrolman with 5 to 7 years of service has a BASE salary of $125-$130K. When you add the REAL value of each year’s pension accrual and the value of current and retiree healthcare promises, their “Total Compensation” EASILY exceed $200K.

    Where do workers in the Private Sector (after only 5 to 7 years) in jobs with similar risks (notwithstanding the tragedy in Dallas) and with comparable experience, knowledge and skills make such compensation ? Nowhere, not even close !

    It’s patently absurd and clearly the result of the Public Sector Union’s BUYING the favorable votes of our elected officials with Public Sector Union campaign contributions and election support.

    Public Sector DB pensions (AND employer-sponsored retiree healthcare promises …. unheard of in the Private Sector) must end, and for the future service of all CURRENT workers.
    P.S. My math skills exceed yours by orders of magnitude. My responsibilities certainly do NOT include changing light bulbs, as did yours before retiring.

  28. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    Quoting SMD ……… “And yet, I am the one with the million dollar pension.”

    Yes, and emblematic of the problem and how absurd such pensions/benefits really are.

  29. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    It was such a simple question. Perhaps I was too subtle.

    Will Swaim: Santa Maria Times May 23, 2016

    “The average California Highway Patrol officer who retires after 20 years of work receives $98,000 per year, available at age 50, and paid for the life of the retiree and that retiree’s spouse.”

    Ed Ring and Robert Fellner: Evaluating Public Safety Pensions in California,April 25, 2014/

    “For example, participants who retired in 2009-2013 are depicted in three bars. Those who worked 20-25 years are shown in the lightest bar on the left side of the block; their average pension is $55,861 per year.”

    Question: who is correct, the vice president of communications of CPC?

    Or the executive director of CPC and the Director of Transparency Research at CPC?

    In this post-factual universe, enquiring minds want to know.

  30. Avatar
    SeeSaw says:

    The writers do not have information on what the retiree’s spouse is going to receive if the retiree passes first. There are four options from which to choose and all are different and each option takes a specific percentage off the top to start. Anyway, it certainly cannot be true that the average CHPO receives $98,000 at the age of 50–I bet you would look far and wide to find one. Twenty years of service would only be 50% of base salary for the pension and they are saying that the average CHPO is making $196,000 yr. at the age of 50? They need to go spread their propaganda elsewhere.

  31. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    SeeSaw, While I agree with you that the $98K average pension after 20 years is likely misstated (probably accurate for new 30-yr retirees), such misstatements do NOT change the undeniable fact that all Public Sector DB pensions (when compared to those of similarly situated Private Sector workers) are grossly excessive, unnecessary, unjust, unfair to Taxpayers, and clearly unaffordable.

  32. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    Thank you, SeeSaw.

    See how easy that was, Will?

    The writers know damn well about the reduction in pension required to allow spousal continuance. They know that firemen do not work “a few days per week”.

    It’s called “death by a thousand cuts”, a little exaggeration here, some misinformation there, an “honest” mistake or two, and they can have half the private workers thinking all the public workers are walkin in high cotton. We’re used to all that.

    I just think it’s funny that Will Swaim got carried away with his bad self and made such a bonehead mistake. Funnier still that he’s not man enough to admit it.

    c’est la vie

  33. Avatar
    Tony Bedolla says:

    That’s a great idea. Let’s do that for all entities that contract with the government. When we need a new city hall or courthouse built we should just hire a bunch of younger construction workers to do the project for a couple of years. After they are done they can move on to other companies.

    And at the end of the project, we could thank them for their hard and let them pursue their bliss to sign on as construction workers for companies that only build structures funded by private funding still wedded to the old model. Or they could move college. It would be cheaper to spend more – to pay for their health care and offer tuition support for several years, for instance – than to turn them into careerists working for private companies whose business model is based upon winning government contracts.

    Especially when one considers the salaries paid vendors who contract with the government.

  34. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    “Especially when one considers the salaries paid vendors who contract with the government.”

    That is a tricky one. There is an interesting facet to comparisons of public and private pay. One can find “studies” with widely varying opinions on the difference in average pay. For state and local pay, three major studies found that, even with pensions and benefits, public workers make roughly the same, or slightly less, than the private sector.

    On average.

    The fourth study (a state by state comparison) found California state workers make 23% more than the private sector (33% when including the value of job security).

    On average. (Safety workers were not included in the study.)

    Federal government is even worse. Cato Institute says federal workers make 78% more than the private sector.

    On average.

    According to the nonpartisan, independent analysis of the Federal Salary Council, federal employees actually make 35% less than their private-sector counterparts when using the proper methodology.

    On average.

    The “average” is the problem. It is almost meaningless. In every study, without exception, it is found that, with pensions and benefits factored in, lower educated/unskilled public workers make much more than they would in the private sector. And highly skilled, highly educated professional public workers make much, much less than their private sector peers. This has been described as a “floor” below which public pay won’t fall and a “ceiling” above which they can’t rise.

    When public sector work is contracted out, though, it seems the floor and the ceiling disappear. Private sector laborers, janitors, clerks, trash collectors, gardeners, etc, make about the same salary as public’s but with little or no benefits. Highly skilled, well educated vendors, though, the ones you may be referring to, can probably make much more than they would working directly for the government.

    Several years ago, a commenter called Juvenal said it much more succinctly:

    ” you are just wrong about the comparison of public sector and private sector total compensation (except at the level which requires no education–sorry for giving them benefits other than Medi-Cal).) ”

    I have seen various articles debating whether “contracting out” is a money saver for government. Hotly debated on both sides. I’d like to see one comparing contracting highly educated vs lower skilled workers.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the state saved a penny by contracting out janitorial work and lost the proverbial pound by paying welfare or food stamps to that same janitor?

  35. Avatar
    Will says:

    Sorry, S Moderation. I wasn’t listening, and I make it a policy never to engage with anonymous trolls beyond a single, substantive response.

  36. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    Good policy, Will.

    Where was the single, substantive response?

    You know you’re on shaky ground when Tough Love agrees with me. That hardy ever happens. (Technically, Tough Love agrees with SeeSaw, who agrees with me; two degrees of Bacon.)

    Neither here nor there to this (almost) anonymous troll. It’s your integrity and credibility on the line.

    Anyone with a working browser can verify that

    “The average California Highway Patrol officer who retires after 20 years of work receives $98,000 per year, available at age 50,…”

    is not true.

  37. Avatar
    Will says:

    PS: You’re right about the CHP pension. I should’ve said 30 years, not 20. Sorry about that.

  38. Avatar
    Tough Love says:

    SMD, Please refrain from saying WE “agree” on things.

    I was simply stating my opinion … an agreement with Seesaw that $98K CHP pensions after 20 years was unlikely and that the 20 should probably have been 30 years.

    Unsurprisingly you jumped on Will’s mistake to play it for all it’s worth …. typical of your bias.

    How about addressing the $98K average new retiree pension for 30 year CHP retirees. They are COLA-increased which makes them equivalent to non-COLA-increased pensions roughly 30% higher or $128K. But with unreduced payouts starting 10 years YOUNGER than those in the Private Sector, the Private Sector’s (non-COLA) pension would have to be over $200K annually to actually RECEIVE $128K if they started collecting at age 55, as do many Police officers.

    YUP when PROPERLY adjusted for COLA increases and being able to collect an unreduced pension at MUCH younger ages makes this average police pension equivalent to a $200+K pension in the Private Sector……. VERY VERY VERY few of which exist.

    You fool only the uneducated/uninformed.

  39. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    YUP, what we actually need here is more transparency. Because “VERY VERY VERY few” is not a quantity we can work with. TransparentCalifornia has a database that is truly mind blowing, especially for those of us with average or below average incomes.


    If, for comparison, we had a parallel list of private sector compensation (without the names, of course) it would tell a very different story. The highest paid public employees would not even appear in the top hundred, or hundreds of California income earners.

    Don’t have a cow, Love. You rarely agree with SeeSaw, either, but it’s not out of the question that we could both agree with her.

  40. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    (some firemen are apathetic, too)

    Another example of unbiased (sarc.) Journalism. Or at least a caution to read the entire article, not just the headline:

    “Apathetic Workers in State and Local Government Are Costing Taxpayers Billions”

    The Fiscal Times, July 7, 2016

    (Quote: “The publication is part of a new era of independently supported non-partisan journalism, and emerges in part from the increased demand for fair, accurate and balanced reporting. TFT serves as an honest broker in sorting through a broad range of viewpoints.”)

    So what’s wrong with this fair and balanced headline?

    A) It’s not just government workers, and

    B) It’s nothing new.

    “Yet those unsettling percentages are the same as Gallup’s comparable measures of federal worker engagement, and roughly in line with those in the private sector, where 31 percent of workers are deemed “engaged” and 18 percent are “actively disengaged,” according to the report. And they’re similar to the figures Gallup has seen over the past 16 years.”

  41. Avatar
    Tony Bedolla says:

    Getting back to the topic.

    As with a lot of things they sound great in theory.

    Can you or Will point to where this idea has been utilized?

    Did it succeed or fail at achieving the objectives claimed in the original piece?

  42. Avatar
    S Moderation Douglas says:

    Not I. I think it sounds terrible in theory. As I said before, I don’t think it’s a serious proposal. Just another lame excuse to get those big numbers out there in print.

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