Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Saturday, July 29, 2006

POA Ad Campaign Over the Top

With 150 pt. type, the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association as screamed "CRISIS!" at me this week as I paged through towards The Angry Poodle...."From my perspective, the ad is accurate," said POA PR-Flack Richard Cochrane in the News-Press article today. "The point was not to exaggerate, and make sure people have the facts and let people make their own decisions."

Apparently, if CIty Hall does not stem the tide -- we are in big trouble. I want to do all I can to support our men and women in blue but it's hard to when most Santa Barbaran's don't start with a salary close to $70,000 when they come into the job market after college and have the opportunity to rack up close to six figures with overtime. I noticed that the ad just shows the amount our officers are paid less than other jurisdictions and not their full salary.

The SB Cops web site is replete with pages and PDFs of information and even has a merchandise this an exageration? At the very least they went over the top to grab out attention....for a change, I agreee with John Davies on this one -- both sides are doing a poor job at handling the situation, what do you think?


Anonymous Realist said...

Gee, Sara---you are missing the mark here. I'm not a cop, not a "flak" for them, OR for City Hall. But someone might want to step back and see if perhaps there are more than two sides here?

Years ago, the Police Dept and City Admin used to share monthly statistics with those on the FIre and Police COmmission, City Council, basically it was public record. Now, the Chief and the City Admin. seem to close ranks around basic public info, about crime stats and also hiring and retention. Too bad, and of course makes me and others think "what are they hiding"???? With basic facts, perhaps this issue could be brought beyond emotion and rhetoric.

And, sorry, but the pay these guys and women get IS below that of comparable agencies---another "fact" that the City's HR could easily display---for better or worse.

I've lived in SB for 30 years, and I can tell you I see signs every day that crime is more rampant and police protection more scarce. Spin it how you must, but I think if this isn't a crisis, it sure is approaching one. Morale is a big factor too---- Council needs to take that into consideration in evaluating this situation.

I think erstwhile "progessives" need to leave their anti-cop biases at the door for this one. Think pro-safety.

7/29/2006 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, Sara, but I'll have to disagree too. The POA may be guilty of using hyperbole, but the City Council seems to me is guilty of squandering millions of our tax dollars to make transients feel at home. And, all they contribute to our city is crime and squallor that approach third world status. (sorry, but it's a sore spot with me)

Doesn't anyone look at our city other than State Street? Walk a block off and it looks horrible. I blame the City Council and our political leaders for that too. And, who has to deal with this third world ghetto we're becoming? Police more than any other profession.

As far as earning too much as based upon the average Santa Barbaran; I'll disagree again. At the risk of sounding overly political, but our city is rapidly becoming the haves and have nots. The middle class seems to no longer have a place here. And, that is precisely what police, fire and others are: middle class. If we want them as neighbors and not just commuter employees with no emotional connection to the city, then that's what we'll get.

$70k for what they do and what they put up with is too little as far as I'm concerned. The pay raise they are asking for is a pittance compared to the money wasted by the mayor and city council.

7/29/2006 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lived here for more than 30 years - and have lived on the lower East side for the last 10 years.

Except for the increasing number of homeless, I have not seen any increase in crime or felt a decreased personal safety, either in my house or walking in the area. (The part near the freeway I avoid walking at night but I have always avoided walking there at night.

I don't think there's anything can be done about the homeless who seem to get an inordinate (for the numbers) amount of public safety response - hardly a day goes by there's not police or firepeople tending to a problem on Milpas by the postoffice/TJ's, but raising police pay is not going to take care of that problem. Raising the numbers of social workers and SRO's might do so.

I agree with "realist" in that the stats should be shared with the public - we are the third force for whom the the other two, the police and the government, are the servants.

How can any decision be made without those numbers? And I'd like to see a real comparison make with comparable cities, not necessarily in California. Such a comparison would include all payments to the police, including average overtime, etc. - and it would include the cost of living here.

I, for one voter, strongly resent the hard sell by the police, the ads (if they've got all that money for all those expensive ads...!), the telephone messages. Prior to all that, I was feeling sympathetic, knowing well it is very hard to live in SB, paying the rents they get here, and that being on the police can be hard job. Those ads, however, have changed my mind to being less sympathetic. They've made me think. Seems to me that for a job with all that security and all those benefits, (and the early retirement with a huge pension) they're very well-paid.

7/29/2006 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Philosophe said...

My brother has been a peace officer of one stripe or another for over 25 years, so I am partial to our folks in blue (or tan, or Harley Davidson T-Shirts). Bro' has worked about every facet of the career field: patrol officer, narcotics, internal affairs, State park ranger, lonely sheriff's deputy on the northern California coast, D.A. investigator, you name it. Whenever I talk to him about the peace officer salary wars here in Santa Barbara, he smiles wryly. The salaries are higher than he has ever earned from Long Beach to Simi Valley to Pismo Beach to the Mendocino Coast, to the Eastern Sierra. But then he moved north so that he could buy a house. He has told me that he had to choose between living in the Southern California, which he likes, or owning a home. Tough choice for someone to make. I guess we could pay peace officers here more, but where would the money come from? As many species of flora that grow here, we have yet to grow a money tree. I don't know the answer, but I bet it's somewhere in the middle ground.

7/29/2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I should be more clear that I am not against police officers getting a raise at all -- how much and where it comes from is the real issue. Should it come from emergency reserves?

7/29/2006 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sara - I think the above post missed your point. You are right and I too agree with Davies this time (as I do most of the time on poltical issues). But it is sure nice to have a brief moment of agreement with you!

Yes we have an issue with Police retention and recruitment and it is a very serious issue. The two departments we do not want under staffed is police and fire and guess what?

I agree that they police have overplayed their advantage of a great issue and gone way too shrill - ugly shrill and it is helping the Mayor and city manager break the union, which seems to be their joint goal. The police have two problems - the Mayor/Armstrong and Cochrane.

And it seems to be over the past two years Cochrane is the bigger problem.

7/29/2006 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should the police employees not suffer trying to carve out housing here just like everyone else does on almost half that income?

Not everyone will buy a big house here, that is an inconvenient truth those police fearmongers will not admit.

7/29/2006 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Jus' the facts, please said...

anon 1252: I agree Armstrong is a thorn. But Chief Sanchez is too and he and Armstrong may be the biggest hurdle the police (and the city) have to contend with. They seem to cover one another's back.

The Mayor/Council need to exert some leadership and remind Armstrong/Sanchez who they work for. This can''t be allowed to degenerate into just a war of personalities. We---the community---deserve ALL the facts and stats.

7/29/2006 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jus' the fact -

you are correct - Sanchez and Armstrong are trying to prove who's the man at our expence.

1:54 -

you got to be kidding me? agree we all suffer with the high cost of housing, but without enough bartenders we drink at home, without enough cops we got a lot more serious problem.

I still think the police are blowing it by being to shrill -

7/29/2006 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

30% or even 36% over three years is not going to get even near to allowing Police officers to be able to live on the South Coast. For a median housing price of $1.5 million, they'd need about $375K/year. For a $600 K condo, they'd need about $150 K/year. The retirement benefits and retirement at 50 won't get them a house, unless they work a second job after retirement and then perhaps they can buy a condo.

Retention issues will not be influenced by this raise, IMO. Perhaps the raise is a step in the right direction, but still, the cops who take SB City jobs will do so because they like the place and can live with an apartment and perhaps an eventual retirement home in the Sierra or Montana... like the rest of us. It would be refreshing if the City police were more active in the push for affordable housing.

One idea... these raises are rather beyond the general fund yearly increase. In this case, I think the Police would do well to propose a citywide initiative to fund higher salaries. That way they could use their formidable publicity and organizational skills to get a bigger pie (and a slice totally dedicated to them) rather than causing a food-fight over a fixed pie. Perhaps the initiative could cover the firefighters too.

7/29/2006 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will tell us who is in charge of the City -

Armstrong and his staff who brought us the Granda Garage huge screw up - BFI rip off - Budget lies and behind the scenes puppet strings (with Mayor Marty attached).

Or the city council with some brains but we will see if there are any guts.

31% of the budget is police - does that tell us how important this issue is to our ciity - and Jimmy plays poltical games.

7/29/2006 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanna check out a CRISIS in the making that NO ONE cares about - go to the Cottage web site. There are 76 UNFILLED registered nurse positions... that is frightening. This does not even count the LVN and CNA positions going begging. No wonder the average wait in the ER exceeds several hours, and one's hospital call bell goes unanswered for prolonged periods. Maybe a full page ad, getting shrill, or getting represented would help - 'ya think? First step,however, is to get this slumbering community interested in this real and present danger to public health, but why bother, it is just primarily a 'women's profession', so, why care? That is, until you or your family is critically ill...
Remember, in the middle of the night, when the patient is alone, or scared, or dying, they sure don't yell, "Doctor!", or "Police!" - they do however, yell, "Nurse!" No one 'deserves' to own a home - everyone simply needs a place to live within their means, whatever those chosen means may be - some, like the PD have larger sabers to rattle and are doing so, most noxiously, believing they are more essential than anyone else. Truly a "hurry for me, and the hell with you attitude."

7/30/2006 11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 7:06 -

So we give up? Not even try to compete with other cities to recruit and retain police? You remind me of the Mayor and Jim Armstrong and Cam - they all have homes here - hummm.

and 11:53 is also correct on the Cottage crisis - nurses - but they have a proposed solution that can help - in the City of SB they have a 100 or so homes at the old St. Francis and space for even more at a location in Goleta. But NIMBYs will untie as the awful nurses will ruin Sherry Rei and the bungalow neighborhoods with less dense homes and remove a huge commerical center.

There are solutions. But the solutions are tied up in political and selfish NIMBY power games and there are no grown ups in City Hall - not a one.

7/30/2006 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nurses - fire fighters - police - teachers - cannot afford to live here.

and the NIMBY's ignore any reasonable affordable housing solutions

we can raise wages but we need to build and reserve homes for critical workers without interference of the crazy I got mine group of NIMBY's or we will face more serious issues than Marty and Mike.

7/30/2006 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its unfortunate that we have a Chief of Police who supports his boss instead of backing the men and women that keep our community safe. Along with giving our officers a decent raise, our community needs a new Chief.

7/30/2006 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was 7:06pm... I don't think I said to give up, but our eyes must be open that the salary requested, large as it seems, does not really address the problem. Retention will not be made much better even if the cops get the raise they want. A little better but only a part of the solution.

Affordable housing must be a piece of the solution, and I was serious that an initiative for salary might be a smarter path than a food fight in City Hall.

7/30/2006 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Public right to know said...

There are many pieces to this puzzle, and always have been; yet perhaps, finally, the confluence of recent local events (eg: City council voting to replace affordable rentals with nine high end condos) with typical collective bargaining posturing will allow some sunlight into the situation:
It's getting unaffordable to live even in Ventura County, so the old "wink, wink" assumption [that the cops and others would move to ventura] with our critical workforce salaries isn't going to work anymore; combined with the rising cost of fuel, farming out our workforce to live in other areas isn't enough.

If the City COuncil refuses to challenge the developers of market rate condos, doesn't want to end up in court with them, then they better get ready to put their money into salaries for the critical workforce. Many of the local workforce who DO live in SB live in rentals. And middle-income rentals will soon be a thing of the past in SB,;

and please lets not waste time pitting nurses against cops against public works, etc. each sector has its own bargaining units and tactics.

Finally, the two figures who seem to sit in the background are really the ones the heat should be on: CHIEF SANCHEZ and City Administrator Armstrong. They'd love nothing more than the public and the press to let the POA negotiations be characterized as another fight between Marty and Mike. Sorry, not this time.

It's time for CAM and JIM to put up---

Council: ask to see the real HR stats on EXACTLY how many new hires are in the academy and in the wings;City Council members: ask the tough questions of Armstrong/Sanchez: what do the 'exit interviews' say for those who left the police dept recently; ask to SEE them--not take their word for it.

ask for UP TO THE MINUTE crime stats and comparison charts. Many of us in the public have seen these in years gone by and with current crime analysis techniques they're easy to get.

7/31/2006 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

At some point the anon's here have begun picking on the homeless. They are homeless because of the uncaring attitudes of the rich. Instead of paying cops more maybe we should provide for more shelters for our brothers and sisters on the streets. Phil. said " bro had to move north to buy a home" So what. Move. Anyone who has spent 25 years as a cop must have pretty bad aura around him. Why don't the cops stop pleading for more money and start protecting the homeless and non native born working americans. When do they start to protect and serve.

8/01/2006 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Philosophe said...

Anonymous at 11:52 am had the temerity to cast aspersion on my peace officer brother's aura. Without knowing anonymous I would be willing to compare her or his aura with my brother's on any day. I won't bore you with stories of bro's bravery and self-less philanthropy. But an interesting indication of his character is that even though he is not Jewish, he wears Star of David beneath his bulletproof vest just to remind himself of the pontential all police have to abuse their authority. Considering the vitriolic and nasty tone of the anonymous 11:52 post I would think anonymous should look after his or her own aura before remarking on the auras of people he or she doesn't even know. Yeah, my bro' moved north to get into the housing market. He is happy with his decision and every community he has lived in has considered him a hero. We are losers in that deal because what we lose is a kind, selfless, dedicated public servant who has never hesitated to put his own life on the line to save someone elses life. Get over yourself anonymous 11:52.

8/01/2006 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Public has a right to know said...
Do check out your facts - nurses in this community do NOT have a bargaining unit of any description. It is not a question of pitting one against another. It is just sadly amusing that the proportionate dearth of nurses is so unimportant to this town - do the math - we are really in sorry need of registered nurses at Cottage, but exactly because there is no union and no tactics, there is no voice - so, dissing from the ill-informed is not helpful to anyone's cause. Check facts before broadcasting mistruths - or you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

8/01/2006 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Pinto says...

Nobody made your bro become a police officer. Certainly the salary was not kept a secret from him. He made a choice so either live with it or maybe he should try another job. It should be considered an honor to serve the public.

8/02/2006 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is over the top is Council's denial to the growing crime around town... Just tonight there's a news story how a home owner uses a gun to protect his family from gang activity, and this is just off Modoc.

8/09/2006 5:11 PM  

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