Sunday, August 31, 2008
By: Ron York, President
The estranged marriage between the police union and organized labor has long been "on-the-rocks." On the day that we celebrate the working man, we need to breach the subject of separation. The relationship between the police union and the working man has been strained even at the best of times. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was rejected by George Meany many times before Sam Cabral was able to win acceptance for his International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) in 1978. From the beginning police unions were seen by the mainline unions as the atheist who came to Sunday School.
Other unions with organized labor connections include Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) who is affiliated with the Communication Workers of American (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) which is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Many police unions in Connecticut are members of The Association of Federal State and Municipal Employees (AFSME). In Iowa, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are the leading representative. The only major organization claiming to be a police union, that is not affiliated with organized labor, is the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
It would appear that the FOP would be the primary beneficiary of the exit of police unions from organized labor. Unfortunately for the FOP, it has multiple personalities. One of the personalities is that of a police union - Chicago and Philadelphia are examples. However, there are two other identities. One is a fraternal club that is more like the Moose Lodge than a police union. The other is a police version of the AARP covering retirees. How to reconcile these competing groups has plagued the FOP for many years. This problem is in every lodge, including Chicago and Philadelphia.
None of this is a revelation to the FOP leadership. Several years ago, I had lengthy discussions about this with then FOP president and secretary - Steve Young and Jerry Atnip. They were completely open to any suggestions, but I did not have any that addressed all of the issues involved. Ideally, police unions would be under one national organization like firefighters are - the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). This was once possible with the FOP, but the problem of competing internal interest and George Meany's rejection made the FOP vulnerable to being challenged by new unions like Sam Cabral's IUPA and Ron DeLord's CLEAT.
Why should the police unions go it alone. First of all, there is little common interest with organized labor. The labor unions are comprised mostly of Democrats. Police officers are largely Republicans. Traditional labor union members are unequivocally blue collar. Law enforcement is close to breaking through to the white collar ranks. Second, traditional union members see themselves as oppressed by the upper class and the police as enforcers of the system that tolerates that oppression. Police officers, while avid complainers, see themselves as in control of their destinies, never victims of circumstance.
Think of the relationship between your police union and the major league ball players unions. Do you see them as your brothers in labor or as your peers? This is how organized labor perceives the police union. Your interests are not the same as regular unions. While I wish them well, I think they need to advance their cause without the police unions. To police unions organized labor is like a pair of "lead pants." They are holding you down. Police unions can accomplish more "going-it-alone" than being tethered to other employees. Firefighters would be better off if they followed the same path.
The problem, and the solution, is the Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP has the membership numbers, but is hobbled by organizational schizophrenia. The FOP needs to quit complaining about the other police unions and get their house in order. Once that is done, the other unions will wither on the vine. In the meantime, the other unions have no motivation to join ranks with you. When you can articulate a credible argument to Ron DeLord why CLEAT should affiliate with the FOP you will have arrived as the IAFF of law enforcement.
By Ron York, President
In an interview that I would describe as excellent, Marc Garman takes bankruptcy expert Robert McConnell through the issues involving the City of Vallejo's Chaper 9 bankruptcy. The interview is both balanced and non-emotional, something rarely found in the dialog on this topic. Watch the interview, which is in two videos, and see if you agree with my evaluation.
Video Number One
Video Number Two
BINGHAMTON -- When city Fire Chief Daniel Thomas started with the department in the early 1970s, there were more than 180 firefighters.
Now, with a force of 132 paid firefighters, Binghamton may be looking to slash positions again. And despite the fact his men have been responding to an increasing number of calls, Thomas understands the need for cuts.
'We all are aware of these fiscal times and financial responsibilities,' he said."
Chicago Police residency rule hard to enforce :: The SouthtownStar :: News:
By Frank Main and Annie Sweeney, Sun-Times News Group
Chicago police investigators secretly watched police Sgt. Michael Stiscak commute to work from his home in McHenry County about 20 times in 2006.
Officer Paul Bacarella commuted to his job from a DuPage County home more than a dozen times during 2004, investigators said.
Stiscak kept his job. But Bacarella was fired for violating a rule requiring Chicago cops to live in the city."
GARY -- Paramedic Harold Marsh and his wife, Gary Police Sgt. Latonia Shields-Marsh, have worked for the city of Gary for more than 15 years.
They purchased a house and recently enrolled their son in kindergarten at Aquinas Community Catholic School in Merrillville.
But the news that many city employees are facing 20 percent pay cuts has placed their future in stark terms."
Saturday, August 30, 2008
By Richard Rider (more info)
Public safety salaries often get lumped together, supposedly reflecting the “critical” need to pay six figure incomes (including overtime, but not counting benefits) for both police and firefighters. But the two occupations are not the same in terms of qualified applicants.
Police work is more demanding, less popular with the public and otherwise not […]"
Police union to decide whether to pay for cars | The News-Sentinel - Fort Wayne IN:
By Evan Goodenow
of The News-Sentinel
Pay or park.
That’s the question Fort Wayne Police officers must answer before a new take-home cruiser policy takes effect soon. Whether the decision will be made individually or collectively, however, is in question.
The new policy – a draft of which the police department released to The News-Sentinel this week – requires $25 payments in each two-week pay period and $30 for officers who live outside the city. Police Chief Rusty York said officers will have the option of paying the fee or keeping the cruisers parked at their homes or designated locations when off duty."
By Jon Seidel Post-Tribune staff writer
CROWN POINT -- A temporary restraining order will stop Mayor Rudy Clay from cutting pay at his police department until Lake County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Tavitas can hear the case next month.
The legal battle between Clay and the Gary Fraternal Order of Police was sent to Tavitas' courtroom Friday after Circuit Judge Lorenzo Arredondo granted a change of venue.
Gary is facing a $13 million shortfall this year, and Clay announced in July his plans to cut all employees' paychecks by 20 percent."
CROWN POINT | Gary police will continue working regular full-time shifts without a 20 percent pay cut, at least until Sept. 19, attorneys for the city and local Fraternal Order of Police agreed Friday.
Lake Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Tavitas scheduled a Sept. 19 hearing to review the city's objection to a temporary restraining order that halts Gary's plan to cut 20 percent of officers' pay by moving them to 32-hour work weeks.
Tavitas agreed Friday to accept the case from Lake Circuit Judge Lorenzo Arredondo via a speakerphone conversation in open court. City attorneys requested the change of venue."
Friday, August 29, 2008
|"City of Opportunity"|
Many people involved in the debate concerning Vallejo's circumstance do not understand the threshold for bankruptcy. It is not about convenience or prudent business practices. Essentially, it is "we have done everything possible, without regard for the associated pain, but we are still going to die if we are not granted relief."
Bankruptcy is "The Full Monty", not the "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." The City of Vallejo filed for bankruptcy, not the General Fund of the City of Vallejo. Some people are trying to make the city's case by carving out the General Fund under the cover of "fund [sic] governmental accounting." Unfortunately, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board does not dictate bankruptcy policy. Everything is on the table, subject to third party liens and encumbrances. Fund segregation and designations mean nothing.
There is a prohibition in the bankruptcy code from giving preferential treatment to individual creditors. Many people think that a victory for the city means that Henke and his "greedy firefighters" crash and burn, with the cops and other city employees being collateral casualties, but that is not the case. The city does not get to pick and chose the creditors that they do not like and strategically do them in. Bankruptcy is an equal opportunity creature. No one gets out alive. It is going to be impossible to vanquish the unions while leaving everyone else whole.
One thing I did not like about the hearings was the unions allowing themselves to be painted into a corner where they were trying to prove that the city could solve its financial issues without breaking a finger nail. It does not matter whether Roger Mialocq can balance the city's budget from the witness stand. That is not the issue. The issue is whether the city has done everything within its means to resolve its problems. I would have been complaining that every finger nail was not down to the quick and not enough blood was being shed. Show me some pain - real pain. The management of the city has not even had its hair messed up. They certainly do not look like they have been in a fight for their life.
As to the main issue of whether the city is really bankrupt, I have not seen a single financial statement that shows the City of Vallejo is either insolvent or illiquid. I have looked at the last five years comprehensive annual financial statements. In case you were unaware, a budget is not a financial statement. It is a forecast, made before the year begins. A weather forecast of snow is not real snow. Luckily for the city, I will not be making next week's decision, only pontificating about it.
Our plan next week is to post the court's decision as soon as it is released, along with a short posting on the POLICEPAY Daily Update. Depending on the time of day that the decision is announced, we will have an analysis posted on the Update and a special edition of the POLICEPAY Journal either later in the day or overnight. In addition, there will be a special POLICEPAY Daily Briefing and POLICEPAY Daily Alert. We are going to get the information out as quickly as possible. If you are on our mailing list, you are good to go. If not, you can sign up by going to POLICEPAY.NET
In the mean time, you can read an article I wrote last week - Vallejo, California Bankruptcy - An Analysis As Of August 23, 2008 . It will bring you up to speed on the issues.
As I stated last week, I believe that the bare, essential facts and law are in favor of the unions, but I think the city will prevail. This type of political drama is not done in a vacuum. The pomp and circumstance, along with the theatrics, matter. The decision would be easy if it was only simple mathematics, but it is not.
Next week, on September 5th, I will begin publishing a series of articles that deal with police and fire pension plans and the rationale for their structure. I will attempt to present the facts as fairly as I can. Therefore, every reader will probably disagree and be unhappy with me at one point or another. All I ask is that you consider the issues I raise. I am not King Solomon, just one man with an opinion.
The articles I intend to print are:
September 5 - Why Defined Contribution Pensions Are Best For Employees
September 12 - Why 100% Under-Funding Is Best For Everyone
September 19 - Why Spiking Has To Stop - Now
September 26 - What Is A Reasonable Pension
October 3 - Why Social Security Is A Loser For Public Safety
October 10 - Dealing With Retiree Health Insurance
This week I want to discuss the basic concept of all pension plans. First, pensions are not "fringe benefits." There is no such thing as a fringe benefit - at least not in employment. Pension, health insurance, social security, clothing allowance and other forms of compensation that are not included in your paycheck are not freebies. They are payroll reduction vehicles. The cost of all of these items is deducted from your paycheck. You may not see it, but the employer has already factored that into your check. Suppose you want to contribute twenty-five dollars to the United Way each pay period. Your employer does not pay it for you. He deducts it from your check and remits it to the United Way. Pensions are no different. The only number that counts is the total compensation amount.
Next, we need to understand that pensions, social security, and retiree insurance are deferred compensation, not a reward for a career of hard work. It is not a bonus or recognition for your years of loyal service. It is a business arrangement - plain and simple. It is like Wimpy's proposal in Popeye - "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for the price of a hamburger today." You work now. We will withhold part of your check and pay it to you later. Most places, school teachers work nine months of the year but they get paid for twelve months. Do you think it is because the teachers union has bought off the governor and the legislature? A teacher that makes $72,000 per year is actually being compensated $8,000 per month, but receives $6,000 per month. The teacher is paid $2,000 less per month when actually working for nine months, but receives three monthly checks when not working after the school year is over.
To grasp what I will be talking about over the next several weeks, you will need to fully understand the two concepts I have just presented:
(1) Payroll Reduction
(2) Deferred Compensation
Otherwise, you will be running up every cul de sac along the route. Believe me, there are plenty of them.
John K. Manna
New Castle News
|Karen DeCarlo, City Council President|
The agreement with Lodge 21, Fraternal Order of Police, which runs from Jan. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2012, includes a pay freeze for this year, 2 percent pay increases in each of the next three years and a 3 percent increase in 2012.
Over the past few weeks, there have been a variety of suggestions that the city's defined benefit retirement system is too generous and in need of critical study if not full conversion to a more modest 401(k)-type structure.Studies generally reflect the notion that public employees do not earn as much as private sector employees. However, public employees compensate for this deficiency by enjoying generally better and more stable pensions.
|Cincinnati City Hall|
An ordinance on the agenda for Thursday's meeting would increase the minimum base salary for the police chief from $90,637 to $98,373, and for the fire chief from $88,348 to $98,373.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Wednesday August 27, 2008, 10:30 AM
If so, the overdue enlightenment could save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars that in the past has been paid out on the losing side of lawsuits."
|Union Attorney Bill Ellis|
The agreement will push salaries for uniformed officers in the 1,100-member force from about $81.6 million to $93.4 million over the term of the contract, which runs a year longer than usual.
City Reps, Steve Ortega and Beto O’Rourke voted against the contract but not because of the annual raises that start at $1.8 million for the fiscal year starting Sept. 1 and peak at $3.9 million in three years."
Redwood City pay hikes come easier than in years past
By Shaun Bishop / Daily News Staff Writer
Redwood City police officers will get a raise next week under a new contract that sets the beginning salary at $88,500.
The city council approved the three-year contract Monday, just a few days before the current one expires Aug. 31.
Beginning Sept. 1, the city's 75 police officers will get a 4.39 percent raise and earn between $88,500 and $107,568, depending on seniority and experience."
|Chief William H. Mathis|
Witnesses say the incident between Police Chief Bill Mathis and attorney Doug Vernier occurred Friday during a break in a meeting between city and union officials.
The union filed the complaint with City Manager Phyllis Loftis.
Mathis began a two-week vacation after the incident. Loftis would not say if Mathis was told to take the time off."
"By Rachel Carter
The Longmont City Council took a final vote Tuesday night to put a charter amendment on November’s ballot that would allow police and fire employees to form a collective bargaining unit. The council voted 4-3, with Mayor Roger Lange and council members Mary Blue and Gabe Santos opposing."
By MIKE McCOY
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 3:43 a.m.
|Councilwoman Carol Dean|
In addition, Councilwoman Carol Dean said the effort to curtail city spending in light of a growing budget deficit did not go far enough and proposed temporarily cutting the pay of all city employees with base salaries over $100,000 by 10 percent until the financial picture improves."
This is a perfect time to study the finances of Jacksonville's city government.
Florida TaxWatch sounded an alarm by noting in its recent review that the city's pension benefits are unsustainable and excessive.
Now Jacksonville Community Council Inc. has announced a major project titled 'Our Money, Our City: Financing Jacksonville's Future.'
Fortunately, the city's bond ratings remain high, so it cannot be called a crisis. But the trends need to change.
Article Launched: 08/26/2008 10:05:15 PM PDT
As has been said famously, democracy can exist only until voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. But in California, there's a twist to that observation.
Voters are failing to discover it's their employees who are emptying the treasury. The latest example is the city of Santa Ana, where there probably isn't enough money to fill potholes, yet politicians last week approved a treasury-busting increase in city employees' pensions."
|Councilman Bryan Wolley|
And the author of the plan says it's all about timing.
The council postponed a vote Tuesday on Councilman Bryan Wooley's ordinance proposal that would've raised the base salary to $35,000. Currently, the starting pay is $33,000.
Wooley moved to hold off on a vote because he said he will present another part of the pay hike that would be 'all inclusive.' As it is, top police administrators would not get any more mone"
219.662.5335 | Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | No comments posted.
|Hon. Judge Lorenzo Arredondo|
Lake County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Arredondo extended a temporary restraining order late last week that halts a 20 percent, citywide pay cut for Gary officers as well as a shift in hours that the police union said may have hurt the department.
The restraining order has been extended until Sept. 25, union attorney Leo Blackwell said Tuesday."
|Chattanooga City Council|
This compromise comes after months of arguing and mistrust between pension supporters and city officials - but tonight all sides came together and agreed on an ordinance that they feel is in the best interest of both the pension and the citizens."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Staff Writer For Vallejo Times-Herald
Vallejo city employees were blocked from accessing at least one news Web site Monday in an effort to cut down on 'political blogging,' said City Manager Joseph Tanner.
Tanner said the move was to prevent city employees from posting public comments on what he described as political sites, leaving the details of that directive to the city Internet technology department's staff. For much of Monday, the entire Times-Herald Web site was inaccessible, city employees confirmed.
The move comes just days after Tanner ordered on-duty employees to funnel reporters through a city spokesperson concerning the city's continuing Chapter 9 bankruptcy case."
|Longmont City Council|
The Longmont City Council will hold a public hearing and take a final vote tonight to put a city charter amendment on November’s ballot that would allow city police and fire employees to form a collective bargaining unit.
The City Council voted 4-3 on Aug. 12 to put the question on the ballot."
|Mayor Ed Pawlowski|
It has cost taxpayers an extra $3 million per year to cover pensions and health benefits for relatively young retirees, all of it transferable to surviving spouses. The pensions often are above base salaries because Allentown police could pick any 30-day period, supercharged with overtime pay, upon which to base their pensions."
|Scott Schackford, Editor|
Not only have police and firefighters received significant raises across the past 10 years, likely higher than most private Barstow employees have gotten, they’ve seen their retirement funds more than double."
|Chief Malcolm McMillin|
'We're in pretty good shape,' McMillin said, 'except when it comes to salaries and overtime.'
Mayor Frank Melton's proposed budget would give the Police Department about $42.6 million next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. It is down from about $45.5 million this fiscal year."
|Mayor Cedric Glover|
The request came Monday in the council's pre-meeting work session.
Councilman Bryan Wooley is behind the effort to bring police pay to the Southern regional average — and to up the force's pay for the second time in less than a year. He says department morale is low and that offering more money will enhance recruiting efforts and improve retention."
Burris: No easy fix for pension fund crisis
|City Manager Greg Burris|
But after listening to a nearly hour-long presentation on the topic Monday afternoon, he did make some observations.
'The public needs to know we can't invest our way out of the problem and we can't cut our way out,' Burris said of the shortfall in the pension fund, which already totals $140 million and will only get worse without a sizeable infusion of money.
|Toronto Police Association president Dave Wilson|
'We have a police board that is out of touch and they don't care,' Toronto Police Association president Dave Wilson said from Newfoundland, where he was attending a national police union meeting.
'Good leadership would be losing sleepless nights over the amount of gun violence in the city and private citizens going out and hiring private security guards,' he said."
Monday, August 25, 2008
Opinion: Steve Greenhut: These worms make taxpayers squirm - OCRegister.com:
Steven Greenhut, Editor
Orange County Register
These worms make taxpayers squirm
"Despite troubling results of excessive pension increases for government workers, local Orange County officials haven't learned to put taxpayers above the unions
To the editor:
As a proud Las Vegas Fire & Rescue captain, serving the citizens of Las Vegas for 28 years, I feel compelled to respond to your Aug. 19 editorial, 'Public employee pay' and the city survey comparing compensation.
It appears Las Vegas city management wants to justify the $360,000 cost of a salary survey to the Review-Journal and the public. Your editorial board has taken the bait in your quest to make public employees look bad in your newspaper, which you attempt to do every chance that you get."
"Bridgeport (WTNH) -- The Bridgeport Police Department is making some drastic changes to try and cut costs. The police chief is breaking apart at least one unit to reduce overtime.
The cutbacks are necessary because the police department is way over budget. The first division on the chopping block is the Traffic Division, which affects 12 police officers.
In Jeopardy is a police K-9 unit, the mounted horse unit and a tactical narcotics team."
Sunday, August 24, 2008
"FLINT, Michigan -- A Flint police officer that claimed he was fired Thursday for talking to the media has his job back, according to the officer's attorney.
Sgt. Rick Hetherington received a hand-delivered letter Saturday saying that the decision to terminate him had been rescinded, said his attorney Gregory T. Gibbs in a message Saturday night.
No other details are available.
When contacted Sunday, Mayor Don Williamson said he didn't know anything about the situation."
City Manager Joe Tanner is affected by Vallejo's bankruptcy action. So, by the way, is the guy who sweeps the City Hall steps.
As are the guys who trim the trees, fix the broken water mains, the women who dispatch emergency calls, and even those guys who race into burning buildings to save lives.
But apparently Tanner believes he's one of a very select few who should be able to publicly talk about how bankruptcy affects him and Vallejo's public employees.
Tanner couches a new sweeping directive to city employees in disingenuous terms, but the underlying message is transparent: If a reporter asks you about bankruptcy and how it affects either you or the city, you'd better clam up."
News Analysis - A Police Contract Without Tears or Arbitration - News Analysis - NYTimes.com:
New York City Mayor
Michael R. Bloomberg
"When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday that the city had struck a tentative four-year contract with the city’s main police union, the news came as a shock to many government watchdogs and political veterans. After all, the two sides had a long history of bad blood during typically protracted negotiations — they had not reached a settlement at the bargaining table in 14 years, with arbitrators settling one dispute after another."
"In July 2005, the ranks of the Allentown Police Department were awash with veteran officers, many tracking down homicides and other high-profile crimes as part of elite, investigative units.
But a generous retirement package, which allowed midcareer officers to leave the force with handsome pensions, pushed roughly 80 veteran officers to retire and be replaced by younger, less experienced officers.
The rash of retirements, combined with the infusion of new officers, threatens the department's ability to conduct complex investigations at a time when gang activity and homicides are at or near historic highs, says the county's highest law enforcement official."
BRIDGEPORT — Police Chief Bryan T. Norwood has disbanded the department's 12-officer Traffic Division and other specialized squads, including the K-9 Unit, Mounted Unit and the Tactical Narcotics Team, may be next on the chopping blcok.
'It is my understanding that other specialized units are going to be disbanded this week,' said Officer Frank Cuccaro, the president of the local police union.
Norwood on Friday said the changes are designed 'to maximize the resources in patrol in order to minimize overtime expenditures. I'm trying to look at any way to reduce overtime."
By The Record
August 24, 2008 6:00 AM
On the left - Economics 101
Vallejo, which three months ago became the largest California city to declare bankruptcy, is facing a new problem: an exodus of experienced police officers.
A shortage of qualified police candidates statewide makes moving elsewhere fairly easy. Cities throughout the state actively recruit from other departments, a pattern that has triggered a round-robin salary and benefits war among the jurisdictions.
It also is buckling municipal budgets already suffering through a steep economic downturn that has cut deeply into revenue."
Saturday, August 23, 2008
1998 - The Big Nightmare Ends
"In an unusual challenge to top officials of the city's largest police union, a group of dissident delegates from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association demanded full disclosure yesterday of the union's financial records and threatened to begin a drive to overthrow its executive board.
The move is the latest in a series of problems for the P.B.A. leadership and a surprising development for a union that for decades has used legislative muscle and savvy at the bargaining table to wield immense power in New York."
Yesterday, the hearing concerning four Vallejo union's objections to the City of Vallejo's bankruptcy ended. Judge Michael McManus said that he would render his decision on Tuesday September 2, 2008. If the decision is in favor of the city, the city will be able to void the collective bargaining agreements of the four unions. If the unions prevail, the contracts stand and the city will have to go to plan "B" - re-negotiating the contracts. Of course, there could be a bevy of appeals and counter-appeals.
Roger Mialocq & Harvey M. Rose
The case evolved along these lines - the city filed for bankruptcy and immediately ask to have the collective bargaining agreements voided and the union filed an objection. To make it's case for the objection, the unions hired the firm of Harvey M. Rose Associates of San Francisco (The Rose Firm). Mr. Roger Mialocq of the Rose Firm was given the lead position on the Vallejo project and created a report that gave his findings (The Rose Report). The Rose Report said that the city did not qualify for bankruptcy and identified areas of additional funds and expenditure reductions that would make the bankruptcy unnecessary.
The Rose Report was publicly released and immediately came under attack from many places. There were some ministerial mistakes in the report, which were subsequently corrected. The four unions put up a website that purported to be informational, but it was more of an advocacy organ that made personal attacks on Vallejo city manager, Joe Tanner. The city did put out information, but overall kept a rather low profile. The local paper, The Vallejo Times-Herald presented a relatively balance coverage of the events. Staff reporter, Jessica York, did a very good job covering story by avoiding the hyperbole being put out.
Although the city did not get down in the mud like the unions, it got its mud slung by proxy. An internet "newspaper/blog" Vallejo Independent Bulletin and two hard nosed bloggers on the Times-Herald website (FF-COPS-WELFARE QUEENS and VALLEJO VISTOR) vehemently went after the unions, primarily the police and fire. This pursuit has been relentless. The two bloggers have to be either retired or unemployed, because they go day and night.
Eventually, the dispute made its way to the venue that mattered - The United States Bankruptcy Court for Eastern California. The hearing began the third week of July and ended yesterday. Testimony began with the city explaining why it was insolvent while making incidental attacks on the Rose Firm and the Rose Report. City officials, primarily the finance people, droned on for days and weeks, finally coming to an end last week. Next, it was the unions opportunity to plead its case. As always, the responding party (the union) ask for a summary judgment in their favor, knowing that there was no way that it would be granted. The judge's reponse provided some insight to what he was thinking. First, he chastised the attorneys for the union for taking the argument for summary judgment over the top. That's bad news for the unions, because it is the judge telling the unions that he is not taking their attorneys very seriously. Next, he told the union attorneys what he would need to hear to rule for the unions and that he had not heard anything like that yet. This translates into "Your are behind in the score and the count is two strikes and no balls."
The unions only had one witness - Roger Mialocq, the author of the centerpiece of the unions case, the Rose Report. The city immediately objected to Mr. Mialocq as an expert witness because of some of the statements he made at his deposition. When discussing the implications of the Vallejo bankruptcy, he referred to other governmental entities that he had previously worked for. As a fallback, the city said he violated a "gag order" by making public comments about his report. As might be expected, the judge was having no part of either of those objections and rejected both. Mr. Mialocq eventually made it to the witness stand and was lead through a presentation by the union lawyers that tried to prove that the city was not insolvent. He supported this claim by giving anecdotes of where the city could either raise or save money, mostly by second guessing the decisions of the Vallejo city council.
On cross examination, the city's lawyers used a three pronged attacked. First, they jumped on all known errors in the Rose Report, including those that were insignificant Based on the reports I have seen, Mr. Mialocq did not field these issues very well. The second prong cast doubts on how knowledgable Mr. Mialocq was about the finances of the City of Vallejo. The third attack was the old "ad hominem". The union's lawyers did little to rehabilitate his testimony.
Based on my review of the financial statements of the City of Vallejo, I do not believe it qualifies for bankruptcy. Based on the audited financial statements, the city is neither insolvent nor illiquid. However, if I had to make a guess today, I would predict that the judge will rule in favor of the city. Being legally right is not always enough.
As much as it is probably not in my best interest, I feel compelled to speak up in defense of the Rose Firm and Roger Mialocq. I do not know Mr. Mialocg, but I have known of the Harvey Rose firm for many years. I have never worked with them. In fact, I see them as competition. There are three primary entities in the United States that provide this type of service to police unions:
Harvey M. Rose Associates - San Francisco, CA
Amy McCarthy - Washington, DC
POLICEPAY.NET - Norman, OK
I have read other reports prepared by the Rose Firm and found then to be both comprehensive and on-point. I have read the report at issue in Vallejo, the Rose Report and found it credible. I certainly did not have time to investigate and verify every number and claim in it, but I found it to consistent with my findings for the overall financial condition of the city. As for the mistakes in the report, all large reports have mistakes. They will continue to have mistakes as long as human beings prepare them. I was once asked on the witness stand by an opposing attorney "are there any mistakes in your report?" My answer was "yes there are". He then asked "would you point them out?" I responded "if I knew where they are, I would have already fixed them."
Another point in defense of the Rose Firm is that it primarily works for the management side. I understand why people call me a shill for police (trust me, I am not). I work mostly for police unions, but the Rose Firm does not. I wish that the Rose Firm only worked for management, leaving the police and fire unions in California to me, but even with that selfish envy, I can assure you that the Rose Firm is not a bunch of hacks.
The ramifications for police and unions will not be good if the City of Vallejo prevails. Essentially, a victory for the city will be a significant lowering of the threshold for municipal bankruptcy. In my opinion, we then will see more cities using bankruptcy to get out of contracts that they no longer like. One thing that will happen, that deter other cities, is the interest rate that the City of Vallejo will have to pay to borrow money. The city will not get out of this without sustaining injury.
Below are links to selected documents that relate to this case:
June 30, 2007 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) - "The Audit"
The unions objection
The City's Response
Roger Mialocq Declaration
Mialocq Exhibits A-B (includes the Rose Report)
Mialocq Exhibits C-H
City Motion To Block Mialocq Testimony
List of Additional Motions and Documents
Unions Website For Information
Vallejo Independent Bulletin
Harvey M. Rose Associates
Final decision in judge's hands - Vallejo Times Herald:
"SACRAMENTO - The question of Vallejo's bankruptcy status was left in a federal judge's hands Friday, and it could be decided as early as the first week in September.
An eighth day of hearings ended with concessions from employee union attorney Dean Gloster. He said that Vallejo's fiscal problems, which cannot be solved by fund transfers and one-time sales, were real and that city officials 'absolutely ... have to control their labor costs going forward.'
Gloster added that if the city receives bankruptcy protection and can renegotiate its employee contracts, as planned, there may be substantial damage claims and 'the City Council will never learn that it has to actually make hard choices.'"
Vallejo Independent Bulletin - The Gavel--A Bankruptcy Court Update--8/22/08:
By Katy Miessner with help from John Kocourek
The MOMENTOUS themes of the day were:
The Rose report is garbage (we knew this);
The Unions breached their confidentiality agreement by prematurely releasing the Rose Report (AKA: negotiating in bad faith)
The IAFF is willing to sell their brethren unions down the river
And based on the poor testimony of Roger Mialocq, (author of the Rose Report), and poor performance by Dean Gloster/Kelly Woodruff (Union lawyers), the Unions are NOT getting their money’s worth. I suggest the Unions ask for a refund, or at least a discount…
To start off with, the Judge dismissed the Union’s motion from Tuesday that the City’s case be thrown out. The judge declined to render a judgment until all the evidence is heard. A statement Gloster made that struck me as odd: he said to the judge “Even if we are right, you can ignore us”. Is this Gloster’s attempt to lay groundwork—if they lose in court—to file an appeal and smear Judge McManus’ reputation?"
Copping a fair contract:
"New York's Finest have at last gotten a labor contract - and the solid pay raises - that they deserve.
The city's 23,000 police officers are in line for pay hikes that will healthily boost salaries across the board. Rookies and veterans alike will enjoy significantly fatter checks that bring them closer in line with peers in suburban forces."
"GARY -- Four fire stations closed their doors Friday after Mayor Rudy Clay promised to abide by a judge's order and staff four firefighters to every Gary fire engine.
'You can't do them both,' Clay said. 'You can't have four on a truck and have 13 stations open. That's just the gist of it.'
Firefighters Local 359 President Raynard Robinson said Friday the administration plans to send 14 workers home without pay beginning Sunday.
'If we get more than one hot fire, we won't be able to respond without help from mutual aid,' he said."
LJWorld.com / 1.5 percent raise likely for police, firefighters:
"Lawrence police officers and firefighters will receive at least a 1.5 percent raise in 2009, under a proposed set of deals that city commissioners will consider Tuesday.
After protracted negotiations that required a federal labor mediator, the employee organizations for both the police officers and firefighters have agreed to new wage deals.
“We’re very pleased to have reached an agreement that will work for the city and both employment groups,” said Diane Stoddard, the assistant city manager who represented the city in the negotiations.
The Modesto Bee | In tough economic climate, unions not pushing too hard:
"Several Modesto public employees unions are not pushing for raises this year because of the budget crunch in City Hall.
Instead, the unions are bargaining to improve health coverage and protect employees who might become targets for layoffs.
One exception is the Modesto Police Officers Association, which is concerned that members are falling behind police departments within commuting distance from Modesto. Its contract expires in December."
Friday, August 22, 2008
News: Costs of police, firefighters go far beyond wages | beyond, costs, firefighters : Desert Dispatch:
"BARSTOW — The real costs of a police officer or a firefighter go far beyond wages.
In its plan for spending the proceeds of a proposed sales tax increase to hire additional police and firefighters, the Barstow Police Department and Barstow Fire Protection District laid out costs that average upwards of about $100,000 a year for a firefighter and more than $135,000 a year for a police officer."
The Herald Bulletin - 9:26 p.m.: Firefighters, city sign new contract: "By Justin Schneider
ANDERSON — Firefighters will receive longevity pay equal to their police counterparts under the terms of a new, three-year contract signed Friday morning.
Firefighters, city officials and union representatives attended the signing at Anderson Fire Department headquarters. Matt Cole, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 1262, said the union’s expectations were shaped by recent property tax relief measure House Bill 1001, which is expected to cut $6 million from the city budget over the next two years."
Flint, Michigan Mayor
Donald J. Williamson
"FLINT, Michigan -- An internal investigation into a recently fired police sergeant says he lied about being ill when he gave a media interview after calling in sick to work.
The attorney for Sgt. Rick Hetherington said his firing was a violation of Hetherington's First Amendment rights and that he was on a pre-approved family medical leave when he gave an interview to ABC 12 on Aug. 12.
The internal investigation also says Hetherington disregarded department rules and regulations that prohibit employees from speaking to the media without acting Chief David R. Dicks' approval -- a policy that has drawn fire from the American Civil Liberties Union."
Simple fact is Gary has too many employees :: Rich James :: Post-Tribune:
"By RICH JAMES Post-Tribune columnist
Hey, Rudy, I know you've got a problem over there in Gary.
Heard you've got to eliminate, like, $13 million in costs by the end of the year or the city goes belly-up.
That's a tough nut to crack.
Doesn't sound like anyone is taking kindly to your proposal to cut pay by 20 percent. Fact of the matter is, they'd like to run you out of town on a rail.
It's not your fault, Rudy. You inherited a mess when you took over as mayor a little more than two years ago."
cbs5.com - Local Wire:
"The hearings on whether Vallejo is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy ended today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento.
Marc Levinson, Vallejo's bankruptcy attorney, said this afternoon the city and the unions opposed to the Chapter 9 petition will submit written legal findings of fact and conclusions of law to Judge Michael McManus by Aug. 29.
The judge indicated he will review the material over the Labor Day weekend and could have a decision Sept. 2 on whether the city's bankruptcy petition prevails, Levinson said
If he rules in favor of the city, McManus will then hold hearings on the city's request to reject its collective bargaining agreements with its employees' unions and the process of negotiating with the unions and the city's creditors will begin, Levinson said."
8/22/2008 - Compromise Reached On Fire And Police Pension Fund - Breaking News - Chattanoogan.com: "New DROP Plan To Apply To New Hires; Board Restructured
posted August 22, 2008
A compromise plan to modify the City Fire and Police Pension Fund that city officials said by one estimate is $95 million underfunded was approved Friday afternoon.
Current sworn fire and police employees can keep the current DROP plan and increase their contribution rate from 8 to 9 percent, or they can base their pension on a final average earnings at the beginning of their DROP period."
One of New York City's Finest
Mr. Patrick J. Lynch, President
Policemen's Benevolent Association
of New York City
By: Ronald J. York, President POLICEPAY.NET, Inc.
Wages – 4% increases each of the four years
Longevity – Increased and tied to base pay for future increases
Health and Welfare – Tied to base pay for future increases
Range Day – Will be restored
Vacation – New officers will receive same as veterans
Home Confinement On Sick Leave – Will be eliminated
Mutuals – Officers will be able to trade work days
Litigation – Six lawsuits will be dropped
Detective Schedule – All PBA detectives will work the same duty chart
The announcement of the agreement was made at a joint press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and PBA President Patrick J. Lynch. The tone and demeanor of the press conference was totally different than what has been seen previously. All three appeared to be relieved that it was all over.
The next step of the process is ratification. There will be pressure from other unions and interest groups applied to Mayor Bloomberg. In his remarks yesterday, the mayor seemed to be addressing those who try to shoot down the deal, at least concerning council approval. Pat Lynch will have to deal with the crowd in his organization who think that the deal is not good enough. The
The primary thing that held back the PBA is pattern bargaining or parity. This is where the employer gets trapped into a policy of granting the same pay raise to all employees, regardless of what the marketplace dictates. Wages for law enforcement have been growing at a higher rate than wages in general. It appears that this trend will continue for some time. With these dynamics, pattern bargaining becomes a millstone around the neck of the police officers. Either the police officers have to accept wages below what the market dictates or other employees have to be paid above the market. It does not take a genius to figure out what the result is. While yesterday’s agreement is not the end of pattern bargaining, it is the beginning of the end. I do not expect the firefighters and teachers to go quietly. In the long run, everyone would be better off making their own deal independent of what other groups do. Unfortunately, most people would rather be with everyone else aboard a sinking ship than going it alone.
If the PBA can capitalize on the goodwill created by yesterday’s agreement, there may be an opportunity to develop an effective relationship with the mayor and city council. The historical record shows that confrontation is ineffective. East Coast combative thinking may be too pervasive. It is not just with the unions, it is management too. Old labor management hostility is alive and well in the Northeast. It is not just an issue with cities and their police officers.
Pat Lynch has done a good job leading his officers out of the wilderness since the PBA was disgraced in the mid 1990s. Yesterday’s agreement is his first major victory. Arbitration awards are never victories – win or lose. The journey is not over for Pat and his membership. The job facing him now is convincing his members to be patient as they dig themselves out of a deep hole.
Tampa Council OKs Pay Increase For Firefighters: "TAMPA - The City Council has given Tampa firefighters most of the pay increase they were seeking.
The council voted unanimously to give firefighters an average of 5 percent merit increases and 4 percent cost of living increases. Mayor Pam Iorio had been lobbying against the hefty raise during tough budget times, but the firefighters union said the increases were necessary to keep good employees from leaving for other fire departments."
Thursday, August 21, 2008
cbs5.com - Vallejo Workers Told To Keep Quiet Over Bankruptcy:
City Manager Joseph Tanner
"VALLEJO (CBS 5) ― CBS 5 has obtained a document from the City of Vallejo that urges its employees to keep quiet about the city's bankruptcy.
A media relations directive from Vallejo's city manager to city employees urges them not to discuss the effects of the city's recent bankruptcy declaration with members of the media.
The memo comes ahead of a judge's decision weather to allow the bankruptcy, and permit the city to slash workers' pay.
Our video report has more on the unrest stemming from Vallejo's financial woes.
SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Metro -- Judge dismisses police officers' OT claims:
Jeff Jordan, Director
San Diego Police Officers Association
"SAN DIEGO – A federal judge on Thursday dismissed the overtime claims of about 700 San Diego police officers who alleged they weren't paid for time spent completing numerous tasks before and after shifts.
The officers are part of a class-action lawsuit filed by about 1,500 officers and employees in 2005.
They claimed the city of San Diego owed them more than $50 million in unpaid wages and penalties for intentionally violating federal labor laws and the city's collective bargaining agreement."
Flint fires police union leader who spoke to media - The Flint Journal Online News - Michigan Newspaper - MLive.com:
"FLINT, Michigan -- An outspoken police sergeant who publicly challenged the city's ban on talking to reporters has been fired.
Rick Hetherington was fired Thursday for talking to the media last week, said his attorney, Gregory T. Gibbs.
The firing is a 'tyrannical act,' said Gibbs, chair of the Greater Flint American Civil Liberties Union.
Gibbs said Hetherington was subject of an internal affairs investigation a day after an Aug. 12 story aired on Channel 12 with Hetherington commenting on the reassignment of another police officer."