Sunday, August 30, 2009

The final days of the gravy train.

It is ironic I got this shot today. When I started bitching about the firefighters, here and way back here, I never imagined the shit storm that was descending on government employees.

How could I know really? It's taken 5 years to gain access to government employee compensation. This is after a supreme court ruled that cities must release the information. Some cities are still holding out.

"More than two years after state Supreme Court Justice Ronald George authored a 7-0 ruling stating that the salaries of all government employees are public record, some local governments still refuse to quickly release data. Pinole in Contra Costa County balked at providing data on overtime and bonuses, releasing only gross pay. The city of Alameda took more than two months to release information on all of its 2008 employees and would not perform calculations to make the data easier for the public to understand. Albany refused to make similar calculations on overtime pay and bonuses."

Read more here from Inside Bay Area.

Which I urge everyone in California to read. It outlines the unconscionable abuses across the board in over time pay. With a ginormous amount of people spiking their salaries 150% with overtime pay. So for example, if your base salary was 100,000 - your take home could be 250,000! And, we'd pay you that for for as long as you live. You might even get a car allowance or bonus thrown in for good measure.

I honestly debated titling this post the 100 thousand dollar club.

They retire with salary plus 150% overtime and deluxe medical. Then they hire someone else for 100+ grand to take their spot. And what is so infuriating - is they could have hired a whole new staff member and still saved us money. Since they are pulling time and a half after all.They rob us all. They make business move out of the state due to the ridiculous tax burden.

No wonder I can run into a firefighter sporting a CLS Mercedes or a series 5 BMW or Volvo or Lexus with reasonable regularity. And the sad thing is - firefighters are only visible because of their license plates. Apparently the abuses are ridiculously rampant in all cities. These are the people who are going to keep health care costs down in a public run system?!

Look at this quote from the article.

"The data show wide discrepancies in pay and sometimes high salaries in government agencies, such as the Port of Oakland, where a semiskilled laborer grossed $123,450 in 2008, and in Newark, in southern Alameda County, where more than half of the 215 city employees were each paid more than $100,000 last year and the average gross pay was $109,027."

Half! Of the city of Newark made over 100k, when the average salary for that city is 80K.

Thank goodness someone had the balls to get this data from the government. I don't know how much traction it will get. Yet, I have seen some bubbling up this past week. At least one official in the East bay has "stepped down to spend more time with his family". Which is code for - you better leave. His pension close to 300k a year. I'll try to find the article.

I hadn't thought much about the whole thing except I'd started seeing more and more stories about it this last week. Then it was on the front page of the newspaper today. They even have a term for it. Pension jackpot.

Strangely when I first started talking about this I attributed the ridiculous pay to 9/11 fallout. However, I've been noticing the comments for these stories change dramatically. From Hero's to thieves.

There's even a website dedicated to the Pension Tsunami. You know, if you wanted to kill all feelings of hope that ever existed in your body.

Or you could read more outrageousness from
It only gets more ridiculous.

"The dubious honor of collecting the state's highest pension belongs to former Vernon City Administrator Bruce Malkenhorst, who receives $499,675 per year - even though he is currently facing two counts of misappropriating public funds for allegedly taking $60,000 in city money for personal use."

"As grand juries throughout the state are investigating pension systems, former Assemblyman Keith Richman, president of CFFR, said these huge pensions are the result of a "corrupt pension system."

California, Richman said, is the only state in the nation that allows employees to use their highest year of salary - including unused vacation, vehicle allowances, bonuses and other compensation - in calculating their pensions."


  1. *bangs head against desk*

    Good God, that's depressing. And infuriating. California sucks in so many ways.

  2. in my agency the average retired captain makes approx.
    48,000.00/year ( not counting medical coverage)after retirement.

    I'd sure like to know who the Hell is worth 250,00.00+/year pension!

    that kind of excess paints us all with the same brush; not a good thing at all.

    BTW.....what do you think the lives of the 2 LACo firefighters dying yesterday is worth in pay,benefits and pension?

  3. I think that is a fair statement. Clearly 48k is not excessive.

    I don't find it appropriate to place a number on the deaths of people serving our country. It clearly is a devastating event.

    Having said that - I don't know why firefighters should get different compensation than our military. Or police. They all die in service to the country.

    While you have been very reasonable in this post, I don't understand why you keep wanting to make this into an all or nothing thing.

    I don't even care that much if a firefighter manages to get a Mercedes here and there - but I run into these cars all the time. Either I must have the most amazing luck, or a large portion of them in many areas are making crazy money.

    I mean, we pay our taxes to support your pensions, and the government doesn't save that money. They speculate on real estate Here. Then they just come to us again for more. It isn't fair. I might feel differently if they weren't constantly feeding from the trough. But to see that, and then see a firefighter practically every month, driving 50-60-80 thousand dollar car pisses a lot of people off.