Saturday, January 3, 2015

Robert Fellner: San Diego Police Department losing most officers to lucrative retirements, not other departments

Money to burn?
Mod: 2015 is shaping up to be quite a year, with many interesting challenges facing those working to bring governmental sanity to the Foothill Village. An issue that has been a problem for quite some time now is how to deal with the demands of the union representing the police officers of  Sierra Madre, the SMPOA. Within the next few months Mayor Harabedian, whose controversial ties to this lawsuit happy labor outfit have not always served him well (link), is expected to once again raise the need for a so-called "Public Safety Master Plan." Something that will require the hiring of a $50,000 consultant, one that will then predictably conclude that in order to retain the services of "experienced public safety personnel" (read: cops) we will need to increase their compensation markedly. But is this actually true? Does an increase in pension benefits in particular cause cops to want to stay? Using San Diego as an example, Transparent California's Robert Fellner argues that this may not be the case.

San Diego Police Department losing most officers to lucrative retirements, not other departments - Over the past several months, San Diego media outlets have issued a flurry of news reports asserting that San Diego police officers are underpaid and that this is “why the department is losing officers.

There’s just one problem. The facts don’t support this narrative.

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Yes, 162 San Diego police officers left the force in Fiscal Year 2014, but only a handful went on to other departments. Additionally, 160 new hires were made, resulting in a net loss of two officers in a force of 1,836.

Of the 162 who left, only 17 — or just 10 percent — left the San Diego PD for another police force. 90 percent of those who left did so for retirement, medical retirement or miscellaneous reasons.  Last year, San Diego lost less than 1 percent of its officers to other agencies.

The main driver of attrition is found in what is waiting for police officers in retirement – DROP payments that can top $500,000 and ongoing retirement payouts that are often higher than their current base pay.

According to Transparent California, in 2013, the average San Diego police officer retiree who had at least 25 years of service credit prior to retirement received an annual pension benefit of $94,425. This excludes chiefs and assistant chiefs, which would raise the average further. The average years of service for these retirees was only 28.78, suggesting that many police officers take advantage of the ability to retire as young as 50 and still receive their maximum pension benefits.

A further breakdown of this data by job title provides even more insight into why so many police officers are retiring from the SDPD. In the City’s study claiming its police officers are underpaid, it reported the average base pay for a SDPDPolice Officer I or II” to be $62,598. The average pension for retired Police Officer I or II was $76,586 in 2013, or over 20 percent more than the average salary.

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A similar comparison for the positions of detective, lieutenant, and captain shows that pensions are routinely higher than average base pay.

Part of the popular narrative is correct: Police officers are leaving the San Diego Police Department for higher pay. It’s just that they’re finding that higher pay in retirement, not in competing departments.

The U-T San Diego reported that half of San Diego police officers will be eligible for retirement by 2017. Should the SDPD find themselves facing a legitimate staffing crisis at that time, it will be because of a system that offers virtually no incentive for an officer to continue working past the age of 50, not the allure of higher paying jobs elsewhere.

Increasing pensionable compensation for current officers — something the city is considering to keep officers from leaving — will only compound the problem.

Mod: You can link to this article and others on Transparent California's brand new blog by clicking here.

Large Chinese developer defaults on loan
Mod: The Chinese real estate bubble has begun to burst, and this year will likely see many stories just like the one we are citing here. This from Bloomberg (link):

Kaisa Group Defaults on $52 Million Loan After Chairman Resigns - Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. (1638) failed to pay a HK$400 million ($51.6 million) loan, raising questions about the Chinese developer’s ability to pay other debts.

Automatic repayment of the August 2013 term loan facility from HSBC Holdings Plc was triggered by the Dec. 31 resignation of Kaisa’s chairman, Kwok Ying Shing, the company said today in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing. The company is assessing whether its failure to pay the outstanding debt plus interest may trigger cross-defaults and have a material adverse impact on the company, it said.

Kaisa’s stock fell 47 percent in December -- its steepest monthly decline on record -- as authorities in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen blocked its projects and key personnel departed. Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said after two executives resigned that Kaisa may face “more challenges” in the days ahead while Moody’s Investors Service cut the company’s credit rating to B3 from B1.

Routine applications for licenses, permits and project approvals haven’t been accepted, while an application for a certificate allowing land acquisitions has been suspended, Kaisa said in a statement on Dec. 21. Approvals for two projects in the city’s Longgang district have been withheld.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

31 comments:

  1. and just how many of those retired police officers are picking up and moving to other states where their money will go farther? This is a double whammy for all the California taxpayers. We get to continue to pay taxes to support these public sector workers in their retirement, and they have left The state so that they are not spending any of that money in California nor are they paying California taxes on it.

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  2. This makes perfectly good sense. If you want cops to stay on the job, don't go giving them the kinds of retirement benefits that will enable them to quit. Maybe now we won't have to hear the old "retain quality employees" mantra every city council meeting.

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    1. With such good benefits, they would be fools not to retire after 25 or 30 years on the force and then take another job. One neighbor of mine who was a police officer tried to tell me that cops have a shorter lifespan after they retire so the pension obligation isn't so great. That's pure union garbage. Their own actuarial tables belie that rubbish. Police officers live as long or longer after they retire so taxpayers are on the hook for a very long time as these retirees enjoy a lifetime of Sundays or simply get another job. Then you have the issue of pension spiking where they get promoted before they retire so that their pension is higher or, like so many Highway Patrol officers, they go on disability shortly before they retire so that their pension becomes tax free or you have the accrued vacation time they didn't take so they don't just get a gold watch when they retire they get several hundred thousand dollars too. Its all a scam and they know it. One consequence of all this is that people like myself who always held the police and fireman in the highest esteem start to resent the ponzi scheme. It really does erode support for law enforcement. It used to be that a politician who had the support of the police was considered to be the "law and order" candidate and that endorsement actually meant something. Now, everyone is on to the fact that such an endorsement is only made because the candidate has promised to acquiesce to union demands during contract negotiations.

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  3. The police are overpaid jackals and professional harasses!!!!! Those jackals never leave me be, and nip nip nip!!!!!!! Leave me be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. You're the reason we need them.

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    2. While I respect the police and value the police, their pay and retirement benefits have gotten out of hand. I don't want to attack them personally but that is the reality.

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    3. Oh boy, now The Tattler has a resident hyena.

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    4. It's not just the police, all "Government workers", that's an oxymoron, are going to suck the taxpayers dry.

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    5. Leave me be you anonymous cowards! You are part of the problem you jackals!!! The police are what they are but the citizenry that follows and hounds me are the real jackals!!!!! JACKALS, one and all!!!!

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    6. Jackals versus Jackass.

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  4. Cities are starting to pay more to people for not working than we pay to people who are working. And because taxpayers are paying so much to people who are not working, cities don't have enough money to pay the people to do the work that needs to be done. No one should be able to retire at 50 with a large pension, cost of living increases and full medical benefits. Even many of the public safety workers themselves realize its ridiculous to retire so young because they don't end up retiring but end up taking another job in which they earn even more money on top of their pension. There was a fire chief who retired from either Alhambra or Monterey Park, and then took a fire chief position in another state. So he earned his new Chief's salary on top of his pension. As Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said: "General Motors stopped being a car company and became an employee benefits company that built cars on the side". Likewise, for many city workers, City Hall has become like an employee benefits company that performs city services on the side. I love and respect the police but, let's face it, Sierra Madre is not exactly South Central L.A. I don't expect cops to still be walking the beat after age 50 or 55 but their are other things they can do before they are able to retire at a young age with a big pension. Also, didn't the Sierra Madre police union hire that law firm Lackey, Dammilier or whatever they were called. That law firm was the worst of the worst. The tactics they used to gain leverage in negotiations with the various unions they represented was always heavy-handed and dispicable. The firm was eventually disbanded under a cloud of corruption. The union will always make threats that if you don't increase salaries, officers will leave the department. Are you kidding? If anyone did, you would have a line around the block of applicants trying to work in a city like Sierra Madre. What the City Council needs to do is not give in to their demands at the front end with increased salaries or at the back end with increased pensions or benefits. Once the public employees were allowed to unionize it created a monster. Even Franklin Delano Rooservelt, not exactly a conservative, felt that public employees that we depend upon to perform vital, and often life and death services, should not be allowed to unionize. By virture of their positions, they simply have to much leverage in the negotiations. We can thank Jerry Brown who allowed that to happen back in 1972 and since that time the public employee unions have taken over the Democratic party in California and basically run the state. They literally are able to elect the very people who will be negotiating their salaries and benefits. That's why the prison guard is one of the most powerful and influencial unions in the state - they have everybody over a barrel should they decide to play hardball. Not only should their salaries, benefits and pensions not be increased, they need to be rolled back to more sustainable levels. I don't know what the percentage is for Sierra Madre, but I know that over 70% of the City of Pasadena budget goes towards employee pay. That doesn't leave a whole lot for all the other needs of a city like fixing potholes, senior services or library funding. What cities have resorted to is ever increasing taxation of the residents who pay for this gravy train. Every City Council member and informed resident needs to read the bible on all this which is a book called "Plunder" How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation" by Steven Greenhut. You find all the tricks the unions use to get their way. Its available at Amazon and must reading if Sierra Madre doesn't want to end up like Detroit, Stockton or San Bernadino which were all brought to their knees by the unfunded pension liabilities and employee costs.

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  5. The last 20+ years of police work is not very impressive in Sierra Madre. When you look at the lawsuits, costs and actions taken by the Sierra Madre Police you have to wonder if this is standard service? Does the City Manager and Council feel satisfied with this level of service verses the costs? There are a lot of concerns and now we learn that Mayor Harabedian is indebted to the police officers association for his election. This is all very concerning, what can be done ?

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    1. To advance politically in this one party county you need to have arranged a big payoff for the local unions. That's how it works here. Consultant and everything else paid for by you, of course.

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    2. consultants like marty?

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    3. image is everything, right marty? that, and winning. ka-ching.

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  6. at some point this ponzi scheme pension plan that we (taxpayers across the US & here in SM) allowed to happen has to implode

    or we will keep getting taxed and taxed and taxed - for what? reduced services - poor management and a never ending spin of a mouse running on a wheel

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  7. in an age where cities like pasadena and bell lose millions of dollars, and mind reader magicians on the city council can assure you that no one in the room knew it happened (thank you wonderful wizard) and politico scabs pull the strings by turning the election process into a game for personal profit...... then this should come as no surprise. money is made off the taxpayers' backs, hand over fist, and given away to the loudest whiners.

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  8. 8:36 makes good points. the unions hold the politicians hostage because the unions represent a block of voters and huge amounts of money that will flow to a willing and pliable politician. That is part of the reason folks like Harabedian pay so much attention to "public safety". it's the old quid pro quo at work here. I agree, letting public services unionize was a major error.... Look what it has wrought. proof of this can be seen in the campaign finance reports of folks like Holden and Chu. they don't have to beat the bushes for money, they just make one phone call to each of the union bosses and presto, lots and lots of money shows up.

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  9. I'm not sure that driving around in circles in a low crime 3 square mile town merits paychecks and benefits for life. I'm sorry, but if the taxpayer paid accommodations are not up to your special standards, please do leave. I doubt anyone will notice.

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    1. notice what? notice who?

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    2. It's like when the Finance Director and Development Services Director left. Did they world fall apart? Are we in the end time? Of course not.

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    3. Come to think of it, while the City has "acting" heads of those two departments, it's way cheaper than filling the positions. We could probably contract out a lot of the accounting and save big $$ on CalPERS pensions.

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    4. We could contract out just about everything. It would save a lot of money and get us higher quality work. Without the ridiculous levels of entitlement. All that stands in the way is LA County union politics.

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  10. One of the big reasons you hire a consultant is for the storyline. If you want to roll out a big tale about how everyone needs to dig a little deeper to keep the PD happy, then you hire a consultant to do that for you. The premise being this consultant is an unbiased third party that is here to deal with the tough issues realistically. Which is nonsense. The consultant is hired to help sell the agenda of the persons who gave him (or her) the job. A Public Safety consultant would in this case be here for one reason only, to help the Mayor pay off the political debt he owes the POA.

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    1. Public Safety consultants who report that no changes are needed won't be in business very long!

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  11. When you think about it, Rachelle Arizmendi had to recuse herself from voting in regards to One Carter/Stonegate because she lived too close and it could be a conflict of interest. If Harabedian did indeed receive alot of money from the POA during his election campaign to the City Council, wouldn't that be a conflict of interest for him to vote on their contract. Its the biggest conflict of interest of all time which is why the public employee unions donate so much money to these campaigns and effectively hand-pick the people who will be on the other side of the table when they negotiate their salaries and pensions. Its about as corrupt an arrangement as could possiblly be created. And the political payback is all done with the taxpayers money. In the future, anyt candidate for political office that accepts campaign money from the public employee unions should be disqualified from serving in office. Its just too big of a conflict of interest.

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    1. As they say in the Mafia, if you want to make it here you gotta earn.

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    2. No. political contributions are considered "free speech".

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    3. Free speech is never free.

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  12. Some speech is freer than others.

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    1. I prefer loose speech.

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