Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chico Has Been Stoned Long Enough and Needs ABS

            stoned – (stohnd)
1.              To be put to death by pelting with stones
2.              Not behaving or thinking normally because of effects of a drug or mind altering substance
3.              Subjected for long periods of time to the nonsensical, self-aggrandizing, egocentric, “I” and “me” oriented delusions of Chico City Council Member Randall Stone

ABS – (ay be es)
1.              Anti-lock braking system
a.     An automotive system which helps to prevent vehicles from skidding out of control and resulting in a costly accident with both financial and bodily harm
b.     Allows for the ability to maintain directional stability and reduces or eliminates the absence of control
2.              Anybody But Stone (Randall)

It has been said that we learn from our mistakes. Unfortunately, we have had to suffer for the last four years as we have worked through the mistake of electing Randall Stone to the Chico City Council. Fortunately, with this election we now have the ability to correct the mistake (by voting him out) and to reflect on what we have learned. Soooooooo, what exactly have we learned?

1.              Randall Stone is all about Randall Stone. To review his list of “accomplishments” one could quickly begin to wonder if he is in fact by himself on the City Council (it would take pages and pages of detailed facts to present the complete truth about Randall’s stated accoumplishments). I mean, it appears that he has taken credit for pretty much everything that has occurred in Chico during the last four years. Are there any other Council members who do anything? Well of course there are, but you wouldn’t know it from Randall’s representations. The truth is that Randall, with an absolute absence of humility, has a perpetual propensity to claim responsibility for things that others do all the time. Even fellow City Council members who are of his own political persuasion will quietly and privately lament about his rude habit of taking credit for everybody else’s work! It is especially noteworthy that in the 10th and 11th hours of this campaign cycle others besides Randall’s foes in City government have spoken out denouncing Randall’s absence of leadership in the Special Olympics and other areas. As the editorial staff of the Chico News and Review has pointed out: “There’s a fine line between noting your accomplishments, and sounding self-congratulatory. Stone crosses the line too often.” Not only has he crossed the line in sounding too self-congratulatory, he has also crossed the line (lied) about taking too much credit for everyone else’s work. A real leader give’s credit to those who got their hands dirty making things happen. Randall is clearly incapable of this!

2.              You know how every Fall you and the neighbors all around you begin to notice the aroma of herbal medicine in your neighborhoods? You know how worrisome it is when you think about calling the cops because you have a sense that nothing can be done, and you fear that your call may prompt an awareness among the dope growers that it was you that called? You fear retaliation? You know how when you did call the cops, they essentially told you there was nothing that could be done about the dope growers in your neighborhood that are affecting your quality of life? Well get this, Randall Stone is fully connected with that pro-dope community. He is the only Council member who has taken money from widely/publicly recognized members of the pro-marijuana/anti-marijuana-regulation community, and he even shared an office with the former president of what publications in the public domain have called “ the Butte Marijuana Grower’s PAC (political action committee).” Some would say this is an old connection before Randall knew better, but check out his Facebook page and his advertising….this marijuana guy, Andrew Merkel, is the author of a recent letter that Randall has been sharing which touts Randall’s alleged accomplishments. Honestly, I don’t believe for a minute that Randall is a stoner, pothead, doper, but he is absolutely connected to and taking money from the pro-marijuana community – the same community that is ruining the quality of life for many Butte County residents. BTW, all of the foregoing regarding Randall’s connection to the marijuana community is not speculation, rumor, or ugly innuendo. Rather, every bit of it is gleaned from public records or documents available in the public domain.

3.              I have spoken again and again about what a liar Randall Stone is. Let me elaborate: Like the Chico News and Review, he lies, misrepresents the truth, fails to present the complete picture or the rest of the story, and he loves to lob partially true kernels of info without fully providing context. Consider these most recent examples:

a.     At a recent candidate forum, Randall was asked about Laura’s Law, a law that allows for compelled medication and treatment of those who are seriously mentally ill (there’s more to it than that, but suffice it to say those who are aware of mental health treatment problems in communities are aware of it and how controversial it is). He did not know anything about it, and the emcee of the event briefly explained what it is. Upon hearing the explanation, Randall volunteered aloud, “ Oh ya…we’ve got that…we do that already….we do that at the place down on Rio Lindo.” The only problem is that we don’t have Laura’s Law in Butte County. Randall lied. But interestingly, as per his track record, he did so quite confidently. Therein lies the problem with this guy….because he is so confident in the lies he tells, the sheeple believe him.
b.     A video recently emerged of Randal misrepresenting the salaries of Fire Department employees at another candidate forum. In response, and in an apparent effort to defend himself, Randall posted another video on his Facebook page. I’m not sure what the point was because in both the old video and the new video, he blatantly misrepresented what Chico Fire employees make in pay. Again, he lied. Apparently, it’s his nature….and considering he uses one of his lies to justify another lie is terrifying!
c.      In a recent post, Randall claims that “80% of Chico police officers” have personal cameras “installed,” and then he goes on in his post to make it sound like he has been an active participant in making this happen and in developing the related policies. The truth is, nobody at the Chico Police Department has camera’s “installed,” nor is anyone equipped with them. Additionally, Randall has not been any part of any discussions that have taken place regarding the development of related policy. Again, he very confidently lied to give the impression that he is large and in charge!
d.   Interestingly, the linked article about everyone's favorite entertainer Kanye West kind of elucidates what kind of liar Randall is:


4.              Public safety – obviously, it is now popular for elected leaders in Chico to say they support public safety because our citizens have clearly made it a concern. Randall will tell you he supports public safety, but I would argue that he does not – at least in Chico. Here is what he will cite as evidence of his support: 1) He went to a conference on human trafficking within the last couple years, and then proposed a local ordinance that would impact some aspect of the issue. He neglects to tell everyone that human trafficking is and has been a crime, but he makes it sound like human trafficking will continue to occur in Chico because the Council majority shot down his proposed ordinance; 2) he went to an event where Butte County Probation officers were doing some really cool community service thing (which they really were), but he has yet to attend, participate or even regard in any way anything that the Chico PD or CPOA does in the community; 3) He claims responsibility for some sort of an ordinance related to banning butane honey oil (BHO) in Chico….and in doing so, he again disregarded the collaborative work his police chief was already participating in to insure uniform bans county wide on certain BHO precursors. Essentially, he claimed credit for the work of the police, but, by the way, the way he represents it you could easily believe that BHO was legal in Chico until he saved the day; 4) This one just galls me….did you see the random picture he posted a few weeks back of himself standing in front of a podium with a Chico PD logo on it? There is no question this was intended to create an impression that he is all about public safety. BTW, the picture is from a CPOA event for Special Olympics where he actually called the Chief and demanded to be involved – this guy is consumed by his ego! 5) In all his years on the Council Randall has done nothing but bag on public safety (specifically, Chico Police and Fire). He has made no effort to establish relationships in either department; he has made no effort to learn from anyone in either department about the inner workings, issues or how the respective industries work. Randall appears to have actually taken pride in bagging on both departments, making sure they maintain a standard of being sub-standard, and never giving anyone in either department credit for the good things they do. Be very clear, Randall Stone is not a friend of, nor does he support, public safety!

Here’s the bottom line: The things I have written about this guy in the past remain true (check out previous blogs),  he is a self-aggrandizing ego-centric narcissist, he is a liar and blatant misrepresenter of truth, he is in the pocket of the pro-marijuana movement in Chico (which continues to diminish our quality of life) and he does not support public safety. We need somebody on Council who can work collegially with the other Council members, who can work with public safety and who can be a credible leader and representative for the City. We’ve been Stoned long enough. Time for ABS (anybody but Stone).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Thoughts on Election 2016

I was hoping to present some profound analysis of the issues and candidates in this year’s election, but alas, time has escaped me so I’m just gonna share some very direct thoughts on what I think about those issues and candidates which are believe are the most significant or relate to public safety:

President of the U.S. – I can’t in good conscience advocate voting for Clinton or Trump. I could go on and on about the issues with each, but that would start its own debate. The bottom line is this: We have a current vacancy on the Supreme Court (the swing vote), and are likely to have others in the next 2-4 years. Vote for what you want the complexion of the Supreme Court to be. Are you a flaming liberal? Vote Clinton because she will pick a liberal for the current vacancy in the Court, and the next ones as well. Are you a staunch conservative? Pick Trump, and he will insure that the court is conservative, now and for the next couple of likely selections. Selecting a POTUS based on the character of the current top contenders? I can’t even think about it without getting a little bit of vomit in my mouth! Vote for what you want the complexion of the Supreme Court to be beyond the tenure of the next President.

U.S. Senator from CaliforniaVote for Loretta Sanchez. Kamala Harris is of the Jerry  Brown, Gavin Newsome, Clinton, Obama ilk. I cannot let go of the fact that Harris refused to seek the death penalty on a guy who shot two cops (killing one of them) in San Francisco a dozen years ago. Also, she is the one that approved the deceptive title of California’s Prop 57, which will release thousands from prison if passed. Sanchez is a Dem too, but she only converted after she could not get elected to office as a Republican. This makes me want to believe she is at least a bit more toward the middle of the road.

U. S. House of Representatives – YES, re-elect Doug LaMalfa

California Assembly – YES, re-elect James Gallagher

Proposition 57 – This is bad, bad, bad for California and it is opposed by every major law enforcement organization in the State. The sole purpose of this proposition is to reduce the California State Prison population. It is not about public safety and it is not about rehabilitation of prisoners as the proponents have indicated. AB 109 and Prop 47 did not do enough to reduce the prison population to a level that is satisfactory to the Appellate Court after California lost the Coleman-Plata class action lawsuit from inmates, so this is next in the Governor’s effort to comply with the order of the court.

Do you even know the history? Well, to make a long story short, two lawsuits by prisoners were combined years ago – one related to overcrowding and the other related to poor medical care in the prisons. After years of going through the courts and being appealed multiple times, California lost. The Governor needed to reduce the prison population very quickly, and he decided AB 109 was the answer. In short, this bill simply took a bunch of crimes that were previously punishable by imprisonment in State prison and “realigned” them to make them the responsibility of the counties (which reduced State costs, but increased county costs and provided no extra money). Essentially, the State said, “We are no longer responsible for these people.” It was a promise of AB 109 that serious, violent or sexual offenders would not be released. Thousands were subsequently released from State prison, including serious, violent and sexual offenders, but it wasn’t enough. Then came Prop 47. Prop 47 essentially redefined a whole bunch of crimes in such a way that they were no longer felonies or State prison eligible. It was sort of a “decriminalization of crime” proposition. This one was a gut puncher because it was blatantly misrepresented to the public as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” The problem is that there were no provisions for either in the proposition. Hoodwinked, the California voters, who of course wanted safer neighborhoods and schools, passed it. Thousands more were released from prison, but it still was not enough.

Then came Prop 57. This Prop indicates that it will change the rules for whether or not juveniles will be prosecuted as adults, and it will change the rules related to sentence credits and parole for “non-violent felonies.” What the Proposition (and its proponents) don’t tell the voter is that, by law (Penal Code 667.5) there are only 15 categories of crimes that are considered violent crimes in California. By virtue of being excluded from the list, all other felonies are considered “non-violent.” Check out just a few of California’s “non-violent” felonies for which Prop 57 will allow early release from prison:

-                Assault with a deadly weapon (245 PC)
-                Corporal injury of a spouse – domestic violence (273.5 PC)
-                Solicitation to commit murder (653(f)b PC)
-                Assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer (245c PC)
-                Rape, sodomy, oral copulation of an unconscious person or by use of date rape drugs (various PC sections)
-                Many other violations that are inherently, but not legally defined as violent

The proponents also say this will save millions of tax dollars at the State level. This is because the State will again be saying they are no longer responsible for certain crooks – these people are likely to become the responsibility of counties. The problem is that its impossible to determine the anticipated millions of additional tax dollars it will cost counties. In truth, this will not save any money for taxpayers.

The bottom line? This proposition will release more very bad people from prison, and contribute significantly to the already increasing crime rate. VOTE NO ON PROP 57!!!!

Proposition 62 – This is all about the death penalty. Do you want to keep it like I do? If so, VOTE NO!

Proposition 63 – There is no state in the nation that has tougher gun laws than California. The additional laws proposed in this measure do nothing but target the law abiding citizen and diminish 2nd Amendment rights. Most importantly, this Proposition does nothing to enhance public safety or keep weapons and ammo out of the hands of crooks. As a sidenote, as written this bill will even make it so a young person who decides they want to put themselves through a police academy as an unsponsored recruit cannot buy ammunition in the volume needed to complete the program or train with the weapons they would utilize as a peace officer…..ridiculous!!! My thought? VOTE NO ON 63!

Proposition 64 – If passed, this Proposition will legalize recreational marijuana use in California. The problem with it is that when Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome and his dope smoking buddies promised 4 years ago that they would bring forward a legalization proposition that was comprehensive and addressed all of the associated legal and social issues, they actually failed to do so. I, like many, believe in the inevitability of the legalization of marijuana in California eventually (which I also predict we will ultimately regret)…..but…..this Proposition still leaves too many unanswered questions. Additionally, by the way, all this crap about the sick people needing their medicine is absolute BS. The sick people that really need marijuana can get it now. The truth is that all the chatter about increasing access by way of legalization is about money. Most of the illicit growers are making unreported, undocumented, untaxed money hand over fist. This Proposition will do nothing to reign that in. Also, the suggestion that legalization is going to result in lots of revenue for the State is also BS. This is a sham. I say VOTE NO ON 64!

Proposition 66 – This is another death penalty initiative. This one is intended to reform the currently screwed up death penalty process in California. It is supported by law enforcement, prosecutors and crime victims. My opinion: VOTE YES ON 66!


            Karl Ory - Nice older gentleman. Uhhhhh…..NO!

Sean Morgan - Part of the team that dug Chico out of the hole the last liberal majority left. RE-ELECT SEAN MORGAN!!

Tami Ritter - Tami has been an occupier of space at the front of the Council Chambers, and nothing more. Time for her to move on. NO!

Jeffrey Glatz - A newcomer to Chico’s political scene, not beholding to the nasty partisanship of Chico politics, sincerely passionate about doing what is necessary to support public safety…..I like this guy, and I think he would be great for Chico! VOTE FOR JEFF GLATZ!

Ann Schwab - I have not always agreed with Ann, and truthfully she disappointed me greatly when she was Mayor and did not assert herself more to support public safety……but……in her 12 years on the Council she has remained singularly focused on serving Chico in a very passionate way. She has not engaged the bitter politics or mudslinging, she conducts herself with dignity and she is in my estimation one of the most appropriate to be on the Council to insure that there are diverse political perspectives. I say VOTE YES FOR ANN SCHWAB!

Mercedes Macias - Seems to be a very nice, albeit unrealistically idealistic, young lady. Maybe in a few more years once she figures out how things really work in life and the world. NO for now!

Randall Stone - A well established narcissistic liar……more on him in a couple days….but in the meantime: NO, NO, NO….HE HAS GOT TO GO!!!

Lisa Duarte - I’m sure that she too is a very nice lady. Unfortunately, she is clueless. NO!

Loretta Torres - I am mindblown at all of those, including the Chico ER, who have endorsed her. Again, appears to be a very nice lady, but I just have a hard time taking her seriously. NO!

Jon Scott - Seriously? NO!

Jovanni Tricerri  - What a breath of fresh air to Chico politics….a demonstrated and respected community leader, not a puppet of partisanship, an experiential history that suits him well to represent and serve as a Chico City Council member!! VOTE YES FOR JOVANNI!

Measure J - Butte College Bond Initiative. Passage of this measure will support critical infrastructure repair, new facilities for welding, public safety and the sciences, and will help the college in their support of vets and the regional job market. This is a definite YES!

Measure L – This is brought to you by marijuana growers with illicit marijuana money, and it is all about them having more freedom to grow more weed to make more illicit money. The rules Butte County has work, and they work well. No changes needed. VOTE NO!

I have only shared my thoughts and opinions about measures or campaigns I have strong feelings about. You’re gonna have to figure out on your own which direction to go on condoms in porno videos, Chico Unified’s request for a bond and all the others. Good luck!

PS - Stay tuned for more on why Randall Stone needs to go……

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Policing, Pay and Retirement...

Soooooo…..a very reliable source of mine tells me that an instructor in a general education course at a local academic institution has been baggin’ on me by name in his class recently. He has apparently told his students that “former Police Chief Mike Maloney” has been raping/screwing the California taxpayer with his (my) retirement. He then goes on to criticize me for retiring from PERS, and then taking a job in education with STRS from which I will also eventually retire. He chuckles as he notes to the class what a hard time he has getting people like me to return his calls and e-mails, and then he brags about the great story he has coming out where he will discuss and expose these issues in great depth. And then, catch this, he turns right around and tells the class that he works for the two local colleges so he can access the same “government” type retirement that I have or will be getting because it is such a good retirement. It turns out that this particular instructor is also a regular contributor to a local weekly newspaper that has previously established a clear record of hating the Chico Police Officer’s Association and bagging on former Chief Kirk Trostle and I for taking, what they call, “early retirement.” Coincidentally, this very same weekly paper called my current employer, Butte College, last week to make a public records request for my current salary amount and information about what retirement system I am in with them. Of course, I am very aware that this is public information. It also happens that this is the same guy who sent me two e-mails during the last week asking to meet and interview me regarding my recent involvement with a PAC during the last election and an e-mail sent by the Police Department’s recent Interim Chief to the Chico City Council regarding the condition of the Police Department – two subjects that have nothing to do with my current salary and retirement system and nothing to do with “raping the taxpayers” with my previous retirement from 32 years in law enforcement, 31 of which were in PERS.

Hmmmmmm……gee… you think this guy might have an ulterior motive? I do! Do you think he is being sneaky or disingenuous about why he really wants to interview me? I do…..and that is why I won’t meet with him. I have previously seen the results of what the CN&R proudly calls this guy’s “investigative reporting,” and in my estimation it was not investigative at all! Rather, it appears to me that what this guy does is he decides what his (usually controversial) conclusion will be first, and then he very carefully and in the most biased way structures bits and pieces of partially factual information together to support his predetermined conclusion.

Not having any idea what this guy has up his sleeve, but anticipating that in some way he is “investigating” my work history and circumstances, as well as my post-retirement employment and community involvement, I thought that I would share my own thoughts and story before this guy starts spewing his slanted spin.

Here it is:

I continue to note over and over again that the liberal left (I detest referring to them as “progressive”) and the haters of public safety and their pay and benefit packages have no room in their positions, messages or public communications for the following:

1.              Truth
2.              Honesty
3.              Context
4.              Facts
5.              The rest of the story
6.              The big picture
7.              Accuracy
8.              Complete information

Rather, when these things don’t fit their story line, their default is to lie overtly, make stuff up, or just omit the truth. As such, and in relation to the ongoing banter being perpetuated by the cop, Chico Police Officer’s Association, PERS-hating and retired-CPD-chief-hating editorial staff of the Chico News and Review and their “investigative reporter(s),” I will take the liberty of addressing a few of the above categories of misinformation as they relate to public saefty salaries and retirements in general…and as they relate to me personally.

I recall that by the time I was 4 or 5 years old I wanted nothing more than to be a police officer. My dad was a motor cop for the CHP, and a highlight of my day was waiting out side and watching him ride his motorcycle down the street toward home. On a couple of occasions, us kids even got short rides. By the time I was in second grade, my teacher wrote in the comments on my report card: “Even now it is evident that Michael wants to be a policeman like his dad when he grows up.” By the time I was in third grade, after my dad told me that a police officer’s most important tool was a notebook and a pencil, I carried my own notebook and pencil everywhere. By the time I was in seventh or eighth grade, I had occasion to be a pertinent witness in a significant arson and insurance fraud investigation. I wanted to be a police explorer, but a back surgery and confinement in bed in a body cast for nearly a year derailed that plan. By the time I was done with high school, I was aware of two young men in the area I lived who had gone to the police academy and become police officers at age 18. I vowed to do the same.

My parents weren’t real keen on the idea of me becoming a cop, and especially at such a young age. By the time I graduated from high school, I had availed myself of a Federal job-training program called CETA. Two weeks after graduation, I was a uniformed police trainee at the Willows Police Department, and two months after that I was attending the police academy. When I graduated from the academy, I was placed into a field-training program, and within a few months I was working as a solo police officer. I made $666 a month, and was thrilled to be making that much money.

By the end of my first year on the job, the CETA Program ended (thank you Ronald Reagan) and I moved over to the Glenn County Sheriff’s Department, where I would spend the next four years working as a deputy. Soon realizing that it was not terribly desirable to be a police officer in the small town where you went to high school, I began to look for employment out of the area. I applied to several Bay Area agencies, but was not successful for a variety of reasons. Eventually, I applied at the Chico Police Department. The first time I put in an application I was not even invited to take the test or participate in the process because a high number of white males applied, and they only allowed 40 to take the test each time. I applied again the next year, and after a hiring process that took another full year, I was hired.

As a CETA employee at Willows PD, I was happy to be making the $666 a month. I made a bit more at the Sheriff’s Department, and just a bit more than that at Chico. I remember the early 1980s when I took home $1000 a month for the first time, and I was on top of the world – doing a job I loved, and making great money at the same time.

Somewhere along the line, I learned something really cool about these jobs: it seems that between the employer and the employee, each sets a bit of money aside every month for the day decades later when I would retire. As an 18-23 year old, between starting my career, and moving departments a couple times, I could not even fathom the idea of retirement. I would hear older officers speak of something called “PERS” and something about “2% at 50,” but because I did not know what it was or understand what they were talking about, I would quietly excuse myself from those conversations. Frankly, this continued until I was in my early 40s with over 20 years on the job.

Until the last 3-5 years of my career, I could not recall a time where I found myself thinking about retiring. Rather, all throughout my career, I recall thinking of such things as becoming a training officer, then earning my AA degree, then becoming a traffic officer, becoming a detective, earning my BA degree, becoming a sergeant, becoming a lieutenant, beginning work on my master’s degree, getting promoted to captain, and then setting my eyes on the top job as the Chief of Police. By the way, of all of the hundreds of police officers I had known in my career, I had only ever met one other who started at the very bottom of a department, and over a full career worked himself or herself through every rank to the very top. It’s just not something that commonly happens. In fact, I came to observe that it was not all that common for anyone to actually serve a full 30 years on the job and retire with a full retirement benefit.

So why do I even mention any of this? Well, the truth is that I am just like many or most who go into policing. When we signed on, we did not sign on for the money or for the retirement. We signed on because we were passionate about wanting to the job, and the department(s) we selected had something to offer – some more than others. In fact, to be very clear, I can’t recall any point or period of time where I recall thinking, “How can I take my interest and desire to work in law enforcement, and use it to hold taxpayers or elected officials hostage so I can get as much money out of them as I possibly can as the CN&R Editor seems to believe. Additionally, even when I was a Board Member, then eventually the President of CPOA, I don’t recall ever having pounded on a drum demanding more wages.

One of the other things I came to learn about this job, as well as from my friends who are firefighters, is that sometimes, after you have worked all of the scheduled hours they make you stay at work….whether you want to be there or not. I have a relative who is a firefighter, who is on his 32nd day without going home as I write this. I have other former co-workers who were on their days off yesterday (after having worked their 40 hours for the week) and they all received phone calls telling them to come back to work for a big emergency. Now, here was the really cool thing I learned as a young officer: when they make you stay, or they make you come back from being on days off, they will actually pay you. The law requires in these cases that they pay you overtime (1.5 times your normal rate of pay), so they do. Sometimes they know that other people are going to be away from their shifts because they are sick, they are taking their earned vacation, they are going away for required training, or they are taking time off to take care of a sick relative. In those cases, they select from other employees who have already worked their 40 hours and ask them to work extra to cover what would have otherwise been a vacant shift. Again, when folks do this they are paid….overtime. Some people like to work lots of overtime, so they do.

Here’s the really interesting thing about overtime: in the 35+ years I have worked in the business, I have yet to run into a co-worker or colleague who is of the perspective that when they are working overtime they are consciously fleecing the taxpayer who pays their salary. In truth, overtime in public safety (absent a very significant depth of staffing) is the difference between people being there to answer the call and people not being there – that is, if you don’t fill the vacant shifts, there is nobody to work! For those who live in an 8-5, Monday through Friday world (like newspaper editors), this concept is hard to understand. In Chico, there are some police officers, for example, who get their 40 hour shift done on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night during the 12-13 hours of darkness. This means that their time off will be Monday-Friday during the day, and they may be available to be ordered in to help meet other requirements of the police department. When they work these extra hours, most often not by their choice, they have to be paid. Again, the law says they need to get overtime. Here’s another truth: most often, there are so many shifts, assignments and special details to be filled that they simply don’t get filled.

One more important point about overtime: All of those firefighters who are on the front lines of California’s wildfires right now and who have been away from home for weeks and weeks on end are all being paid….. lots of that pay is overtime! Nobody cares right now, but I have predicted before and will now say it again; the haters are going to be bagging on them in January or February when the local daily publishes their annual salaries again, and the public sees how much they really make when they work all those hours. Their work of the last few weeks will be forgotten. I have come to believe that the public and the haters don’t really care how many hours those in public safety work. They don’t even care that they get paid overtime. The thing that they just can’t get over though, is the isolated (no context) thought of a government employee who, for any reason, makes over $100,000….which is what many of the firefighters will make this year.

What continues to blow my mind, and frankly anger me, is that that those who appear not to like police and fire seem to just make up the story about pay and overtime, rather than seek to be educated about the truth. I see some who are given lots of print time in the local media who like to talk about how the jacked up overtime contributes to final salary for retirement of public employees, and that the employees will intentionally “spike” their retirement so they can make more when they are done. Nothing could be further from the truth! Overtime DOES NOT count toward retirement….EVER!!! PERS retirements in California are based upon the base salary of the particular public employee. The lefties and haters won’t ever report this though, because it does not fit with their contrived BS message and dilutes their biased messages.

Speaking of making things up, and the contrived message, here’s a couple tidbits about how the retirement system works. In the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), which hundreds of local governments throughout the State participate in, the employer (city, county, state, etc.) pays an amount of money toward future retirement for each employee and each employee pays an amount toward their retirement. In many cases, governments historically, through the collective bargaining process, have elected to pay the employee portion of retirement in lieu of otherwise giving a raise (because it cost them less to do so overall) – Chico did this several times over the years. The result for the employee was that their base pay (on which their retirement is based) would remain the same, but their monthly take home pay would increase. This occurred to such a degree throughout the state that many government employees ended up with their entire contribution paid for by their government employer. By the way, when this happens it is not because the officers held their city council or board of supervisors hostage. Rather, it happened because the persons elected by the citizenry to those bodies voted to allow it to happen – yes, the elected officials approved it – long before it became public and long before it was ever realized on a public safety employee pay check.

When it comes time for a retired employee to collect their retirement benefit, the formula for their monthly pension pay is based upon three things: 1) What is the highest base salary the employee ever made (not counting overtime)? 2) How many years does the person have in the PERS system (NOT how many years the person has been in the profession)? 3) What retirement formula does the employee’s work group have? As an example, lets say that a police officer has 25 years on the job, her highest base salary was $75,000 annually, and her formula as a public safety was 3% at 50. This means, the soonest the employee could retire and collect any pension is age 50, based on the 3%, she would earn 3% of her highest salary for each year of service (3%/year x 25 years = 75%). Doing the math, this officer would earn 75% of $75,000 for the rest of her life, or $56,250 of taxable income. The more money you make, and the more years you have, the more you will make in retirement. If you are a public safety employee, they most you can make is 90% of your salary if you have worked a full 30 years. To be very clear, the only way a 50 year old can retire from public safety in California and collect a 90% pension is if they worked 30 years …. In PERS! One additional benefit that elected official sometimes give employee groups through the collective bargaining process is called EPMC (Employer Paid Member Contribution). Under this benefit, the elected officials approve the employing entity reporting that portion of employee share of retirement that they pay as “special income” to PERS, which means a maximum retirement benefit can go up to 97-98%. This can only happen though if the elected body in charge of the government entity approves it, and consents to giving it to their employees – like happened in Chico (and many other California counties and municipalities).

There is a lot more too it, including a number of nuances that help to paint a complete picture, but the lefties and the haters don’t typically like that complete information thing. Instead, they like to bag on guys like me who probably make up less than .5% of PERS employees. Why am I a less than 1%er… anomaly? Well: 1) Very few people begin making their PERS contributions at age 19 like I did. The result being that by the time I was age 50, I had maxed out in the PERS system with 31 years. 2) Very few start at the very bottom of an agency, and over their 30 years work their way up to the very top, highest paid position which receives the highest salary and which salary is the basis for calculating the retirement benefit. In truth, most public safety retirees from PERS are like the 25 year $75,000 example I gave above.

There are many in our community who want the average, uniformed citizen to believe that all Chico Police officers are screwing the taxpayers with their exorbitant pay and benefit packages. Nothing could be further from the truth. Among those most vocal about this are at least one ignorant Chico City Council member (more about him in future episodes!), a variety of gadflies who hover at City Council meetings and the CN&R editorial staff. The truth is that the market for police officers in California is the entire State. In fact, currently the Chico PD employs individuals who have come to the Department from Crescent City to San Diego, and everywhere in between as the Department sought to avail itself of the very best from that market. In order to be competitive in this statewide market to attract and hire the highest quality employees, a competitive wage and benefit package must be paid….and it must be maintained. For many years, the City elected leadership made a commitment to paying competitive wages and benefits. They provided packages that were consistent with the best departments in the State. As a result, the Department was able to attract the best employees….and it was because of the high  quality of the employees, that, when there were not enough of them to keep up with the activity of the rapidly growing City, they were able to keep their heads above water. Then, the economic downturn hit. Officers were laid off, then restored. Other positions were eliminated, and over time, nearly 30% of the Department’s sworn strength was lost through attrition and a failure to approve rehiring to even the reduced staffing levels. At the same time, in response to the unprecedented number of vacancies, the Department reduced or eliminated staffing in key areas and special assignments, and struggled just to keep up with emergency calls for service. Over a concurrent 2-3 year period, officers took pay cuts that resulted in up to 20% reductions in previous base pay levels. Overtime became mandatory for basic shift coverage, vacations and other time off was cancelled, and ignorant current and former City Council members led the charge in baggin’ on the Department because they simply could not keep up with the service demands. Crime began to rise, and the quality of life throughout the City diminished noticeably. And throughout all of this, certain current and former members of the Council and members of the local liberal media actively assigned blame for it all on the members of the Chico Police Officer’s Association, most of whom, in truth, are guys and gals just like I described myself previously.

It just chaps my ass when Chico’s cops are made to be the bad guys for what the City’s top appointed and elected leadership made happen. It was mismanagement and incompetence, not the paying of competitive wages to get quality employees that brought us to the brink of disaster as a city. Even though a reduction in those wages and benefits helped to save the City, it came at a significant cost. The most experience employees bailed – some could see the writing on the wall, and bailed sooner than others. There were changes in what the City had to offer replacement employees, and the City was no longer the attractive place to work that it once was. Salaries and benefits were reduced, and frankly, at least for a period of time, that was reflected in the quality of applicants the City was able to attract for various positions. Fortunately, it now looks like the City is on its way out of the hole….but please be very clear: this was not a hole caused by the employees, by the unions or by public safety specifically. Everything that happened is the result of decisions, action and/or omissions of top appointed and elected leadership of the City.

A former Council candidate naively suggested a few years back that Chico could hire a whole mess of cops if we reduced the wage to $12 an hour. You know what you get for $12 an hour? You get $12 an hour cops. As the mayor once made very clear, “If you want to pay for amateurs, you’re gonna get amateurs,” and he noted, “we have been there before.” I would suggest that as a community, we don’t even want to go there with the police. We need to make a commitment to remaining competitive in the statewide market, and paying a wage and benefit and offering opportunities that will allow us to do so. We also need our leaders to show that they have the nads to take responsibility for making the decision to keep Chico competitive in the market for quality cops, and they need to be openly accountable for their decisions when they do so.

Who knows what the big investigative reporter has coming down the pike, or what or whom it is about….but I feel better getting some of these things off my chest!!