San Jose’s Pension ‘Cancer’

Last week, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown offered stark comments and opinions on the subject of runaway public employee compensation and pensions.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Reed suggested that the “seeds” of the problem were planted almost 30 years ago.

“I look back at all the decisions made along the way to enhance retirement benefits, each one adding to this problem.  We’ve reached the point where this is like a cancer.  It started long ago and grew very slowly, but now it’s an aggressive, high-growth phase.  We need to act now.”

Former California Assembly Speaker and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown offered this “confessional” in his weekly SF Chronicle column.  “People constantly ask me how we wound up in this mess. The answer is, we are all to blame.  We can start with the absence of intelligent collective bargaining by public decision makers. Myself included.  There was no way we should have agreed to guaranteed fixed-amount pensions and health care packages without take backs that would have been triggered if the economy went bad.”

Brown continued:  “California’s cops and firefighters are among the best-paid civil servants in the nation, but try telling them they may have to give up their snowmobiles, motor homes or fishing boats to pay more into their pensions and health care.  Any union leader who delivers that message is instantly in peril of losing his job.”

How bad is it? San Jose city officials have decided to ground the police helicopter in an effort to save fuel and maintenance costs. And police horses may be put out to pasture in another cost cutting move.

11 Comments

  1. C’mon, the horseys were just E-ticket amusements.  If they’re needed downtown, then someone has issued a permit for an event that should take place elsewhere.

    Regarding the helicopter, that too is E-ticket all the way.  Prove to the residents that spending half as much in other areas of police enforcement would not far eclipse the value of the helicopter.

    • That you would be a policing expert, too. I hope I’m not alone in hoping the police chief makes the decisions as to how best to maintain safety as opposed to this clown.

  2. “Brown continued:  “California’s cops and firefighters are among the best-paid civil servants in the nation, but try telling them they may have to give up their snowmobiles, motor homes or fishing boats to pay more into their pensions and health care.”

    People never cease to amaze me. Talking about the pot calling the kettle names. This man lived an extravagant life when he was in government. Nice car. Nice clothes. I’d bet he had a big, fine home with all kinds of niceties. What an a$$ wipe. I’d bet he still lives in a life of luxury.

  3. Willie Brown thinks we are upset about losing fishing boats and snowmobiles? Many cops are losing their homes. Just like everyone else. We’re worried about paying the mortgage, the gas bill, our PG&E bill. Not our non-existent toys. We pay 22% of our income into our retirement. I don’t have money for a jet ski!

    I know a wonderful husband and wife who are both SJPD. They have a 1 year old son they adore. They are trying to plan how to survive when they both are at serious risk of being laid off in July. They are not alone. The stress levels at the SJPD are skyrocketing and not one bit of that stress comes from losing a jet ski.

    “California’s cops and firefighters are among the best-paid civil servants in the nation, but try telling them they may have to give up their snowmobiles, motor homes or fishing boats to pay more into their pensions and health care.  Any union leader who delivers that message is instantly in peril of losing his job.”

  4. ““California’s cops and firefighters are among the best-paid civil servants in the nation, ……. Any union leader who delivers that message is instantly in peril of losing his job.””

    Willie speaks the truth about guaranteed fixed-amount pensions

    ” We can start with the absence of intelligent collective bargaining by public decision makers. Myself included. ”

    “There was no way we should have agreed to guaranteed fixed-amount pensions and health care packages without take backs that would have been triggered if the economy went bad.”

  5. Government run amok. Allowing guaranteed fixed pensions for government workers shows how detached the taxpayer has been from the administration of their tax dollars.

    Other examples of our not paying attention to public employee compensation:

    Liberal Paid Vacation
    Liberal Paid Sick Leave
    Liberal Holiday Pay
    Liberal Pay Raises and Cost of Living Adjustments
    Lack of Oversight of Productivity
    Overly Generous Health Benefits

    We didn’t pay attention and they robbed us.

    • While you are getting a whole weeks vacation, after five years employment, I get 16 hours.

      When I was in the private sector, I got time and a half for working Saturdays, double time for Sundays and double time and a half for working holidays. With the City, it’s just another day.

      When I was in the private sector, I didn’t have any deductible, copays or premiums. It was fully covered by my employer. With the City, depending on what insurance you choose, a single person can pay over $200, per pay check, to help pay for their insurance premiums, plus deductibles and copays.

      When I was in the private sector, I had unlimited sick leave, up to one year off.

      When I was in the private sector I received raises that scared me. I was wondering if they figured they had made a mistake and would take it back. Aside from that, whatever I saved, they matched.

      You talk out of your left ear and, as usual, don’t know what you are talking about. If a person has a decent education, as the majority of City employees do, they could have a decent paying job in the private sector, with decent, thriving companies. What you DON’T have is YOUR fault. What you ARE NOT, in life, is YOUR fault, because life is what you make it.  Your short comings are YOUR fault and your petty jealousies are really ugly.

  6. I’ve never figured out how Pete Constant can collect a police disability pension and work as a council member.

    A bit of a scam if you ask me.

  7. If you were honest you might mention that about 30 million of this yearly san jose budget deficit is due to the building of the new city hall.

    Remember 1996 proposition I?

    City Civic Center Relocation: Without imposing additional taxes or taking money from other city programs, shall Ordinance No. 14224.1 be amended to permit the relocation and consolication of civic offices in the downtown so long as the costs are paid by using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and other land, savings from the elimination lf leased office space, and consolication of city faciliies and services?”

    So how about asking the idiot voters of San Jose to cop to that screw up.  That baby is theirs.  Thank the Mercury News and the past San Jose city council for pushing that irresponsible proposition.  A free city hall ….gee….you mean it didn’t happen like they said it would?

    “But I thought they were magic beans mom?”