Sunday, May 30, 2010

They Gave Their Lives That We May Be Free

Saturday Afternoon Briefing - May 29, 2010


San Francisco, California – Police and Fire Give Up Pay Raises
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Police Officers Association and the San Francisco Fire Fighters Local 798 agreed to forgo 8% in pay raises over the next two years.  During 2007, both organizations negotiated four year contracts that provided for 23% in pay raises.  The San Francisco Police Officers would have been the highest paid major department in California by the end of next year.  This comes after both Oakland and San Jose have been subjected to give backs.  All areas of California have seen tax revenue decline of the last year, however, this month sales tax has rebounded.  The disaster brewed up by the Vallejo fire fighters has poisoned the goodwill that had been prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area.  There is now another city north of San Francisco threatening to file bankruptcy.  The fallout from Vallejo will take some time to clean up.  Both the San Francisco police and fire associations are run by competent people.  So, we can assume that this is the best they can get without making other sacrifices.
    
Las Vegas, Nevada – Monday’s Vote Was Only A Dress Rehearsal
Monday, the Fiscal Affairs Committee approved a one year contract with the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.  Essentially, each side agreed to go home and come back next year, probably a smart move by both sides.  The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is really the Clark County Sheriff Department.  The City and County share the costs and govern the department with the Fiscal Affairs Committee.  This committee is made of County Commissioners and City Councilors,

Tuesday, a “new Sheriff” came to town – a 2009 statute that required a notice period and a public hearing.  The new law was the product of Republican legislators and the twin nemesis of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association – the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  Strange – both organizations support limited government and oppose government regulation.  I don’t how that bill “fooled” them.  I am sure you have figured out by now that the notice and hearing were omitted.  Bring back the bright lights and the face power.  Silence – LVPPA Contract take two.

Las Vegas, Nevada – LVPPA Reach Deal With City On Marshals
When the Las Vegas Police Department was merged with the Clark County Sheriff Department there were certain police functions that the city retained.  To accomplish these duties the city marshals were established.  Today, there are 77 of these marshals.  According to the city, the LVPPA have given about $1,000,000 in concessions.  Before the agreement, 20 marshal slots were scheduled for elimination next week.  I wonder if Chris Collins receives overtime.  Surely, he does.

Dallas, Texas – The Honeymoon Is Over – Reality Sets In
While still in the process of trying to get their first contracts, police officers and fire fighters have encountered trouble on the banks of the Trinity.  It seems that budgetary concerns have turned the discussion away from pay raises to pay cuts.  Fearful that revenue will not rebound quickly, the city has gone into the prevent defense mode.

First contracts are a struggle, even during good times.  The process is new for both sides, making negotiations a tiring trial and error marathon.  The management of the City of Dallas is cordial and accommodating, but they work for a very conservative city where organized labor is not held in high esteem.  The local newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, fully understands the demographics of both its subscribers and advertisers, and is ready to trash the public safety associations on demand.

Last Tuesday evening, Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm had dinner with the seven police fire union leaders.  The news imparted to them was grim – 2.72% pay cut and six furlough.  Dallas Police Association president Glenn White seems to understand the political reality of their current dilemma – he said “Public safety will take a hit.”  He is probably correct.   The rather strange negotiating process of the Dallas Meet and Confer ordinance makes the process very difficult.  The seven associations have hired Houston Police Officers Union Executive Director, Mark Clark to assist them.  Unfortunately, the ordinance precludes him from attending the negotiations meeting.

Mark has done a good job of containing the seven unions and maintaining unity.  However, in recent weeks the Fraternal Order of Police has strayed off of the reservation.  President Michael Walton has been publicly encouraging police officers to not work overtime during next year’s Super Bowl.  Although the Super Bowl will actually be in Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth will have to provide a large share of the additional law enforcement required.  I understand the FOP’s frustration, but their public remarks are most likely counter-productive.  The goal for the first contract should be to codify existing policies.  From that foundation you build

The city is forecasting a budget deficit of $131,000,000 for the next fiscal which begins on October 1st.   The total budget is in excess of $2.7 billion.  I can say with a high level of confidence that the actual results for 2010-2011 will be better than what is currently being shown.  The economy has begun to grow again and the proposed budget is being prepared under a cloud of “blue funk.”  Things will look much better this time next year.
Economy Continues To Grow

Housing Prices Are Up From 2009 – Flat Now
Clark County Is The Last Major Hold Out

The economy is still growing at a rapid pace.  The revised GDP growth for the 1st quarter was 3.0% versus the preliminary number of 3.2%.  Both of these numbers are after removing inflation.  The Case Shiller report on housing prices during March was released this week.  Most areas are up from 2009 levels, but there is one major exception – Clark County, Nevada.  If you squint your eyes and look at the chart, it does look like the bottom may have been reached, but I offer no guarantees. 

There is some good news in dessert – hotel occupancy is up and new home construction is up.  Let me explain the boom in new housing construction.  It seems that people purchasing homes would rather have a new one than a repo.  Banks are so bureaucratic and incompetent when handling bad loans and foreclosures that are left holding the bag.  Some day lenders may wise up and find that it cheaper to arrange workouts with people in default than it is to foreclose.

Although it will not be a straight line, the next seven to ten years should be growth years.  Of course it is always possible for some external influence to change that.  There is some talk about a “double dip” recession.  The people raising this are hedging their bets.  We had a double dip recession after the Jimmy Carter presidency.  It was a self-inflicted decline.  In 1981, the Reagan administration and the congress passed a massive tax cut which over stimulated the economy and a boom occurred in 1982.  In 1982, they took half the tax cuts away, which caused the economy to crash.  In 1985, the administration pulled the plug on the long-term capital gain exclusion, killing the real estate investment market and giving the coup de grace to the savings and loan industry.  From 1966 to 1986, the money supply and the tax code were exploited by presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan.  Since the middle of Reagan’s second term there has been less political interference.  The recently passed health care bill is minor in comparison to the twenty years of exploitation.

If you are currently in negotiations or about to start, just hang on.  The financial environment will progressively improve.  Contrary to the hype in the media, Los Angeles is not going bankrupt.  Neither is any other major city.  San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland should be the last of the large concessions by a major city police union.  Now is the time to stall.


If you would like to speak with me, just send an email rjynegotiator@gmail.com or call (405) 535-1516.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

LOS ANGELES SALES TAX GOES POSITIVE

1st Quarter Sales Tax Up 6% Over Last year
Real Estate Price Up Too
San Francisco & San Diego Have Similar Results
(click headline to read entire article)
Percentage Change From Previous Year
Los Angeles Recession Lasted 5 Quarters



Total 5 Quarter Decline of 17%



Moving Twelve Month Total
Revenue Declined $48 Million
(Annual Basis)


17% Decline Peak To Valley

The preliminary numbers released by the California Bureau of Equalization shows that the three-quarter cent sales tax received from the state has rebounded.  Los Angeles receives its quarterly tax allocation in four checks – a monthly check and a cleanup check.  The third monthly check has been received for the first quarter sales.  Next month, the cleanup check will arrive.  It is typically 6% to 8% more.  For our purposes, we used the exact amount of last year’s cleanup check.

Written by Ron York rjynegotiator@gmail.com (405) 535-1516
The POLICEPAYJOURNAL is published by POLICEPAY.NET
Matt Barnard, President and General Manager matt@policepay.net
Norman, Oklahoma, 73069 (405) 701-8616

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ah, You Don't Believe We're On The Eve Of Destruction?


Barry McGuire - 1965
The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin', bullets loadin'
You're old enough to kill, but not for votin'
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin'

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the button is pushed, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Yeah, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin'
I'm sitting here just contemplatin'
I can't twist  the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it's the same old place
The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace
And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don't believe
We're on the eve
Of destruction
Mm, no no, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.
2010 Revision

The public safety union, it is exploding
Salaries flarin', pensions loadin'
You're old enough to pay, but not for retirin'
You don't believe in greed, but what's that paycheck you're totin'
And even along the San Joaquin obscene pensions are floatin'

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Don't you understand what I'm tryin' to say
Can't you feel the fears I'm feelin' today?
If the pension liability comes due, there's no runnin' away
There'll be no city to save, with the world in a cave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Yeah, my blood's so mad feels like coagulatin'
I'm sitting here just contemplatin'
I can't twist  the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don't pass legislation
And marches alone can't bring pension elimination
When human respect is disintegratin'
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin'

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.

Think of all the police greed in Laguna Hills
Then take a look around to Beverly Hills
You may leave  for 4 days in Mobile
But when you return, it's the same old dribble
Constant poundin' of the drums, the pork and malaise
You can bury your loot, but don't leave a trace
Hate your citizens, but don't forget to say grace
And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don't believe
We're on the eve
Of destruction
Mm, no no, you don't believe
We're on the eve
of destruction.
Rebuttals welcomed, with the following requirements:
No anecdotal evidence
Must be done on a macro economic basis
Must compare with GDP and historical record since 1945 (20% of GDP, etc.)
All period comparisons must be peak-to-peak or valley-to-valley (no 2000 vs 2009)
All period comparisons must cover at least one business cycle (no 2010 vs 2008)
No forecasts or opinions - just facts
Must show latest supplemental data (what has happened since your data) 
Real evidence, not editorial commentary
WARNING - YOUR DOGMA MAY BE FATALLY INJURED BY THE FACTS

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aurora, Colorado - City extends police, firefighter talks - The Denver Post

Aurora extends police, firefighter talks - The Denver Post: "The City Council agrees to reopen negotiations after unions call a 5% cut in pay and benefits 'ridiculous.'
By Carlos Illescas
The Denver Post
POSTED:�05/18/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

AURORA — The City Council on Monday agreed to continue negotiations with police and firefighters over a new contract that called for about a 5 percent cut in pay and benefits.

Members of the police and firefighters unions called the cuts 'unacceptable.'

Don James, president of the Aurora Police Association, was pleased with the council's decision to return to the bargaining table but said he was frustrated that police officers and firefighters are being targeted for cuts.

'The proposal that was given to us was absolutely ridiculous,' James told the council.

About 300 police, firefighters and their supporters showed up at the council meeting Monday night wearing red T-shirts that read, 'Support your police and firefighters as if your life depended on it.'"

Toledo Ohio - Union Votes To Approve New Deal




The Toledo Police Patrolman's Association voted Monday to approve an agreement with Mayor Mike Bell's administration that erases the forced concessions imposed this year and replaces them with less severe cutbacks for the union's members.

The exact vote totals were not released Monday night, but union leaders said 417 out of 459 members cast a vote. The agreement does not need the approval of Toledo City Council.

Mayor Bell said the memorandum of understanding approved by the union was the only option to end the impasse between the city and the union. He said the city still gets $2.6 million in needed savings.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Briefing - May 8, 2010

Tulsa, Oklahoma – A Deal Is Struck Between City and FOP
Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the Fraternal Order of Police reached an agreement late Thursday evening.  This comes after five months of bitter exchanges between the Mayor and the FOP.  Mayor Bartlett came into office late last year and immediately began one of the heaviest handed shakedowns that I have ever witnessed.  Determined to reign in what he saw as excessive pay and benefits for police and fire, he announced that severe cuts would have to be accepted or there would be large layoffs in both departments.  Rather than talking directly with the FOP and the IAFF, the mayor used the local newspaper, The Tulsa World, as his vehicle. 

The World is sympathetic to the mayor’s “fiscal conservatism” and more than glad to serve as his house organ.  In an effort to appease frightened FOP and IAFF members and concerned city council members, FOP President Phil Evans and IAFF President Stan May began a dialogue with the mayor.  Unrelentingly, the mayor held firm with his ultimatum.  Eventually, the pressure became too much for the firefighters and they agreed to concessions that were not as draconian as the mayor originally proposed.

In response to the FOP not conceding, the mayor laid off 133 police officers.  At the same time, he fired long time police chief, Ron Palmer by announcing it through the Tulsa World, without speaking with the chief.  Shortly afterwards, about one-third of the laid off officers were brought back with federal grant.  Subsequently, it was discovered that the money was available all along. 

The usual tit for tat debate went on for the next two months.  But on Thursday that all became mute – a deal was reached.  The deal has no pay cuts or furloughs in it.  There are concessions on comp time and overtime. 

I am surprised that Mayor Bartlett was able to do this.  Most people get so “personally invested” that their pride and ego prevents them from compromising.  Obviously, the mayor is a much better man than I thought.  I am not sure that I could have done what he did.

Friday, the Oklahoma Tax Commission announced that Tulsa’s sales tax revenue went positive.  May’s check was 3.7% higher than last May’s.  

To read the rest of the briefing click the head line for this article

Friday, May 07, 2010

Vallejo's Measure "A"

What is Measure “A”?  If passed on June 8th, Section 809 of the City Charter will be repealed.  Section 809 provides a method to resolve employee contract negotiations impasse – binding arbitration. 

Binding arbitration is like a civil lawsuit, but much more informal and expedient.  Arbitration costs much less than even a small lawsuit.  The arbitrator, who is jointly selected by the city and the employee union, is the “judge” and his decision is final and binding, except for the ability to file a Motion to Vacate in civil court.  It is very hard to get such a motion approved by the courts. 

Who are these arbitrators?  Most are college professors or lawyers that work exclusively in this area.  Most arbitrators are steeped in the concept of “interest based bargaining” and many have participated in Harvard’s program that promotes “alternative dispute resolution.”  Their job is much like that of a marriage therapist.  From the start to the finish, arbitrators are encouraging the city and the union to come to an agreed to solution.  Arbitrators understand their purpose and their duties, but are hesitant to impose their values on people that they do not know.

How are arbitrators selected?  Normally, the city and the union request a list of potential arbitrators from the Federal Mediation and Reconciliation Service.  The city and the union take that list and begin taking turns striking names from the list.  Each side strikes those that they feel would be least favorable to them until there is only one left.  Personally, I would be satisfied with just putting their names in a hat and drawing one out.  I can honestly say that I have never been before a “biased” arbitrator.  If an arbitrator is seen as not fair to one side, that arbitrator is “blacklisted” by the losing side and its peers and effectively is unemployed.

How does binding arbitration negatively affect the negotiating process?  Binding arbitration can become a narcotic for both cities and unions.  Chicago and Buffalo seem to take their negotiations to arbitration every contract cycle.  That is not a good outcome.  Under those circumstances negotiations tend to be nothing but discovery for the arbitration hearing.  Arbitration can sometimes be a shield for the city and union leadership.  A mayor may have no personal problem giving a pay increase that would appear unreasonable to his political base and thus he is happy for an arbitrator to decide for him.  The members of the union have talked themselves into unreasonable expectations and the president is not willing to shoot down the fantasy.  He will gladly lateral the ball off to an arbitrator.

Click Headline To Read The Entire Article - PDF

Oklahoma City and Tulsa Go Positive On Sales Tax Revenue

The Dominoes Begin To Fall - California Is Next

The City of Tulsa just announced that they have reached an agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police.  No pay cuts and the laid off will be coming back.  More to come later.

Look for the economy to explode with growth.

Tulsa World: Details emerge on city-police union deal

Tulsa World: Details emerge on city-police union deal: "No pay cuts and no unpaid furlough days are part of a tentative contract agreement reached Thursday between the city and the police union, union sources have told the Tulsa World.

Continuing the restriction to keep take-home vehicles within Tulsa's boundaries is also part of the deal, with some exceptions, including K-9 officers, the sources said."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

New Orleans - Serpas To Become New Orleans Police Chief

The Associated Press: New Orleans to get new police chief from Nashville: "NEW ORLEANS — Nashville police chief Ronal Serpas will return to his native New Orleans to take over the city's scandal-plagued police department, becoming the department's first white chief since the early 1980s.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu made the announcement Thursday, a day after asking the U.S. Justice Department to send a team to help reorganize a department under several federal investigations. Most notably, US authorities are looking into the shooting deaths of unarmed civilians in the days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four former officers have pleaded guilty in a cover-up of the shootings and the investigation is continuing."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

St. Louis should keep its promises - STLtoday.com

St. Louis should keep its promises - STLtoday.com: "Politicians in St. Louis city government appear to be in denial about the causes of police and firefighters' pension funding issues. Contrary to what city officials have been promoting in the news media, the allegedly generous benefits provided for in the St.�Louis police and firefighter pensions are not causing the city's budget problems.

In much of the news coverage, the city is presented as if it voluntarily passed a $140 million bond issue and then asked the citizens of St.�Louis to raise their sales tax to maintain the pension funds after a prior market downturn."

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

West Palm Beat - Commissioners officially adopt police contract, eliminate step raises

West Palm Beat  Blog Archive  Commissioners officially adopt police contract, eliminate step raises: "In what was a formality at Monday’s city commission meeting, commissioners officially adopted the 2009-10 police contract. The new contract included an elimination of the five percent annual step raises for officers in their first nine years on the force, the elimination of bonus holiday pay for officers who work on four of the 11 holidays and a decrease in benefits.

Commissioners had already voted on this contract last month, and two weeks ago members of the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association voted unanimously not to ratify the contract. So the city commission had to officially impose the contract for the first time in a quarter century."

Oklahoma City police, fire layoffs possible | NewsOK.com

Oklahoma City police, fire layoffs possible | NewsOK.com: "Oklahoma City can avoid major staffing cuts and add new police and firefighters in the next fiscal year if the city council can convince its employee unions to accept pay and benefit concessions, city officials said this morning.

Without those concessions, the city will have to cut 100 jobs, including 22 uniformed police and 29 firefighters."